I absolutely adore this article from the UK’s Guardian Online, for more than one reason. First, it uses the word masochism when it comes to how people are who eat spicy chiles. It also talks about the evolution of spicy snacks and a little bit of the science that underlies the chile pepper itself, which I have written about numerous times. Lastly, it’s nice that this article comes out of England, since it shows you that the love of chile peppers and all things spicy are not at all relegated to North America alone. Enjoy!
Dave’s Red Hot. Mother Puckers. Green Bandit. Scorned Woman. Pain is Good. Blair’s Death. No, they’re not rock bands. These names represent just a small selection of the brands of hot sauce available at my local supermarket.
Humans, apparently, enjoy torturing themselves. Spiciness, after all, is not a flavour, not like sweet or salty or sour. Spicy means pain. The sensation of spiciness is the result of the activation of pain receptors in the tongue. According to psychologist Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania, about a third of the people around the world eat hot peppers every single day. Why? Because they “love the burn”. At a symposium on gastro-psychology during this year’s Association for Psychological Science convention, Rozin pointed out that humans are the only species – we know about – that specifically seek out what would otherwise be considered negative events.