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.