Anything but chilly

26 05 2011

So … the reason I haven’t blogged in a while is because I was so scared to eat what I ate today. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but it took me that long just to get over my fear.

Fine, fine. That’s not exactly the case. My thesis has been eating my soul. But the part about when I bought the food is true, and so is the part about me being terrified.

The food (at least I think it’s supposed to be food) in question is called Bhut Jolokia (or Naga Jolokia), and it comes from India. It’s also called ghost chili, apparently, which totally made it that much more appetizing to me. I’m not sure if the moniker implies that it kills whoever eats it, or that it’s made from corpses. From the looks of it, the answer is both. With a heat of 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units, these things are apparently 1,488 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, which amounts to a comparatively mild 700 SHU.

In the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, now you know.

And now I know — actually I knew before I tasted it. Which made the experience that much … deeper.

I almost ate one of these things straight out of the package, which probably would’ve been a bad choice since they’re apparently dehydrated. Fortunately, I read the back of the package first, which told me to place the chili in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes and then use them in one of my favorite recipes. (Or, you know, eat one all by itself.)

The package also had this to say: Melissa’s Bhut Jolokia (boot joe-low-kee-uh) are absolutely the hottest chiles on the planet, testing at over 1 million scoville heat unit (habanero chiles are typically 400-500,000 Scoville and jalapeños 2,500-5,000).

As if that wasn’t lovely enough, it continued: CAUTION: This chile is extremely hot and potent!. Wear plastic gloves when handling chilis and do not touch face.

Does the inside of my mouth count as part of my face? Because I was about to put one of these there, and I wasn’t so sure about this whole plan.

By the way, in case you wondered, these things smell like ashes. I’m thinking it’s because they burned themselves up from the inside.

Instead of eating one dry (which would probably cause me to explode or something equally gory), I soaked one in a bowl for a good 20 minutes. I then donned some plastic gloves, took it out (it looked the same, just soggy), cut off the tip, paused in a moment of silence for my taste buds and put the little piece in my mouth.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened. Absolutely nothing at all. Not even the Otter Pop I had sitting next to me as a sort of fire extinguisher, in case of emergency.

For the first half a second or so, it didn’t taste like anything. And then my tongue caught fire.

I spit it out. I had to. I couldn’t kill my poor esophagus. But it was too late to rescue my tongue. I was right in saying goodbye to my taste buds. I don’t think I’ll be using them again.

I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten an Otter Pop as fast as I just did. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. I can’t really feel my tongue … I mean, I can feel it, but the only thing I can tell you about it is that it really hurts. I think it can’t decide whether to be numb or on fire.

I can’t imagine what would happen if I took a nice big bite out of one of these things, nor do I want to imagine it. I’m pretty sure it would have something to do with hospitalization and stomach pumping. And probably a lot of water and ice chips for a long time.

When I try a weird food and decide I like it, I usually recommend it to people. Occasionally, when I’m feeling mean, I’ll recommend the nasty ones, too. But this … I would never wish this on anyone. By itself, anyway, a Bhut Jolokia isn’t food. It’s more of a fire-starter. In fact, you’d probably get the same effect by lighting a match and then chomping down on the flame, so if anyone feels like following in the stupid footsteps of yours truly, there’s a cheaper suggestion for you.

By the way, this beats both Clamato juice and green pepper jelly in terms of horrific experiences. Congratulations, Bhut Jolokia. Now give me my taste buds back and get out of my life.

———

Ingredients: World’s hottest chili. There you have it.
Price: $2.49 at Fry’s.
Pros: Great to use as a weapon … if you’re evil incarnate, that is.
Cons: One word: Ouch.





My hands smell like pomegranate puree

6 05 2011

I’m baaaack!

It’s finals weekend, too. Did you get that? I’m blogging on finals weekend. You should feel incredibly honored that I’m procrastinating taking time off from my ever-so-valuable studying to do this.

What is “this,” you ask? Well, just a few minutes ago, I consumed a lovely, gooey, chunky, slightly slimy bar of pomegranate pulp.

Let’s back up.

Yesterday, I was getting some shopping done at Target when I noticed they had a food section. Don’t ask me why I never noticed this before. It was a revelation. I thought there was no way I’d find anything out of the ordinary at Target (foodwise, anyway). But then I spotted the health-food aisle. And within the health-food aisle, I discovered Archer Farms fruit bars. (Archer Farms is apparently a Target brand, by the way. So Target really does make food.  Who knew?)

Now, before you call me out and tell me I’m incredibly picky, let me just say that I love fruit. I’m kind of a fruit nut … wait, that’s confusing. I don’t really like nuts. But I do like fruit. A lot.

However, as with all food I enjoy, I like fruit to a point. The picture on the front of the fruit-bar box showed flattened, shiny, sticky-looking slabs of … pomegranate, I guess. Stuck in a food processor and mixed with some unidentifiable chunks. I’m sorry, but that passes the point of appetizing.

Nasty-looking enough to try? Check. I bought them.

Before I ate one this morning, I spent some time getting acquainted with the box. On the front, under the picture of two gooey bars sitting on what looks like a piece of waxed paper on a table, it says, “Serving suggestion.” I assume this is another way of saying, “Don’t put these babies directly on your table, because they’re like gorilla glue and will never come off.” Maybe that was just my interpretation.

The other thing I noticed about the box was a little round seal toward the top that says, “Simply nutritious. Simply delicious.” How cute. I love rhymes. I’m just not sure I believed this one.

Time to find out.

Turns out these fruit bars are individually wrapped, which supported my gorilla-glue theory but is also a nice perk if you’re wanting to take them places, like the park with your children so you can punish them for squabbling by feeding them pomegranate goo.

The packages are incredibly hard to unwrap. Have you ever noticed that about healthy food? Maybe it’s just me, but I swear, every time I try to open something healthy, it’s much more difficult than opening, say, a package of Oreos. I think it’s a marketing ploy. I think they’re trying to make me feel like I need to get in better shape, and the way to do that is by eating their product. I’m on to you, health-food companies.

When I got the package open, I expected some sort of rotting stench to flood my nostrils. (Call me pessimistic, but the bars reminded me uncannily of dried fruit, and specifically raisins. I like dried fruit; I hate raisins. Raisins are grape corpses.) I was pleasantly surprised (even though I shouldn’t have been) when the scent of pomegranate wafted through the air. Yum. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a terrible experience after all.

I tore off a chunk of the bar and put it in my mouth. The experience was a very detailed, intricate one. In order to best relate it to you, I’m going to break it down in terms of the number of times I chewed it:

Chew. Hmm, not bad, not bad. I taste pomegranate. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like gummy bears. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like those gummy vitamins my mom used to make me eat when I was too chicken to swallow pills. Chew. You know, it’s kind of losing its flavor. Chew. Hey … it’s chunky. Chew. Oh gross, what are these chunks?  Chew. OK, now it doesn’t taste like anything … but it’s really gooey. Gooey cardboard. Ugh, get it out of my mouth. Swallow. All gone. Thank you, God. Where’s the milk?

In case you couldn’t gather it from reading my innermost thoughts, these things are good at first — they taste much better than they look. But the best way to eat them is probably to chew each bite about twice and then swallow it, because otherwise, it loses its flavor fast, and the only sensation left is the gummyness of the … stuff, whatever it is. Pureed fruit, I guess. Suffice it to say, it’s really not good.

The perks are that they’re (mostly) natural, they’re good for you and they taste good at first. The downside — the whole gooey, melting cardboard thing — kind of outweighs the perks, at least for me.

Oh yeah, and as I’m sure you surmised from the title, my hands still smell like pomegranate. They’re down by my keyboard and I can smell them from … up here. You know, by my face.

Can’t say the fruit bar didn’t leave an impression.

———

Ingredients: Apples, fruit juice concentrate (apple, pomegranate, blueberry, lemon), oligofructose, oat fiber, natural flavor, vegetable juice (black carrot, red cabbage) for color and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Price: $2.49 at Target.
Pros: The first few chews taste like pomegranate.
Cons: All subsequent chews negate the deliciousness of the first few. You have been warned.








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