Hotsy Totsy

Last week I made Joanne’s Southwest Salad, a corn, black bean, sweet red pepper, jalapeño, and quinoa mélange that tastes like health and purity. The recipe is in our Kitchen Congress folder.

I usually add the whole jalapeño, seeds and all, but this time I scraped the seeds out of one half of it with my fingers, and added some powdered Chimayo to the mix. It was nicely warm, but not too hot. The Chimayo powder is hot.

I am a life long nail biter, and I was surprised how the jalapeño oils got under most of my fingernails on both hands and made my typical daily nail biting an unpleasant experience the whole rest of the day. I had a choice of being a nervous wreck or having an unpleasantly hot tongue. I opted for the hot tongue.

Our son and Dil love spicy food, and put Sriracha in much of what they eat. Son toyed with Ghost peppers for a while, but decided habaneros are just the right amount of heat for him, and they are easy for him to grow in pots and freeze so that he can throw them into dishes all winter.

We are rather enthusiastic pepper growers and will grow a variety of hot peppers (Chimayo and New Mexico Joe Parker mild red Anaheims), as well as four kinds of sweet red peppers this summer. I am a medium weight for heat. The hottest food I ever ate was my first introduction to East Indian cooking at a Pakistani restaurant in London. I was 21, and the food was so good but so hot I cried all the while I ate it, but I couldn’t stop eating as it tasted so wonderful.

What is the hottest food you can tolerate? What are your favorite curries? Are you a nail chewer?

70 thoughts on “Hotsy Totsy”

  1. I’m one step more daring than “Minnesota spicy” but generally don’t like hot for hot’s sake. I am a nail biter so I try to remember to wear latex gloves when I work with peppers. Not a big fan of curry either, but I enjoy it. Just seems out of my comfort zone as far as cooking it goes because of different ingredients, methods, etc. But I put curry powder in my eggs on a regular basis.

    We found a mango-habanero salsa that’s a Cash Wise (Coborn’s) store brand that’s really good. Packs a good kick but doesn’t linger on the lips or burn the back of the throat for 30 minutes. And I finally tried sushi about 10 years ago and was stunned by how good wasabi tastes on the different rolls.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The hottest meals I ever had were a bowl of chili at the Colt Cafe in Raton, New Mexico and a curry from the former Sri Lanka restaurant here in Minneapolis. I like heat but I don’t season my cooking quite as much as I once did. It’s not as if I have anything to prove and I find that sometimes too much heat interferes with fully tasting the food.

    I love curries. Our current favorites are a Thai red curry with chicken that I make in the Instant Pot— the degree of heat depends on how much of the can of red curry paste I use— and a Japanese squash and mushroom curry that isn’t actually very hot so I add a few red pepper flakes.

    I don’t bite my nails and can’t imagine how that would be soothing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Just thought about this: I always say that too much sensory input raises my pain level or fight-orflight level, except for taste. But I don’t like Indian or Caribbean food even when they are not hot. It is the rush of many flavors I do not like. So, yes, taste can be for me like smell, touch, sight, and sound.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I don’t mind foods that are mild to medium hot but I don’t go out of my way for them. I remove the seeds from jalapeño peppers and I don’t use habanero peppers. I tried one once and that was the last time. I have made Joanne’s Southwest Salad too. I really like the flavor of curries but I’d rather have the flavor, not the heat. I make curries myself but I keep them rather mild and let the veggies speak for themselves.

    I’m a lifelong nail biter as well and I’ve had the same experience with jalapeños. I’ve really worked hard to train myself not to bite my nails. I do it much less than I used to and I’m proud of this because I have been doing it since I was a young child. Covid has really helped train me to keep my hands away from my face. I remember someone saying something once about biting their nails, and I remember thinking about that and then trying it out of curiosity. It was the start of a lifelong habit.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. About 25 years ago I was with a client in Sedona, Arizona when we stopped at a little gift shop. The client was a shopper, so she headed right in and was browsing while I lingered near the front. This gift shop had a salsa bar at the front (they sold salsas and hot sauces) and a sign encouraging tasting, presumably so you’d know what you wanted to purchase. I took a little spoon and scooped up a bit of the prettiest presentation – habanero. I knew nothing about hot peppers back then (Nonny was NOT a hot pepper kind of person so they were never in our home growing up) and had never heard of a habanero. So the little spoon went right into my mouth – probably about a 1/4 teaspoon. WOWZER. I had to actually go outside, sit on the bench and put my head down; the possibility that I might faint seemed pretty good.

    I have had hotter (ghost cheese from tim once) but have never had another reaction like that.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Like you, I had no previous experience with habaneros. A friend and I had a jar and we opened it and each took one whole pepper out and shoved it in our mouths. The whole thing! Memorable. Not in a good way.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. My mother “cured” me of nail biting with that nasty stuff when I was a kid. I tried to wash it off as soon as I got to school, but whatever that application is, it is meant to stay on. Took about a month before I completely broke the habit as I recall.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Just a heads up: the post for tomorrow I believe will be mine. But I have to leave here at 7 tomorrow morning for a procedure starting at 8:30 and ending at 2. So I will not be reacting to your comments tomorrow until after 4 or so, if then

    Liked by 4 people

    1. What does picking nails entail? I can’t imagine how that works. Probably lack of imagination on my part.

      The dislike of cilantro is apparently a genetic thing. To some people it tastes like soap, fortunately I’m not among them. I love the stuff.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Sometimes. For me it’s kind of an OCD thing so I don’t like to get started. Dry skin and hangnails or dry cuticles can get me started. I’m better at exercising self-control than I used to be.


      1. I didn’t like cilantro at first but a friend started making cilantro chutney. He encouraged me to just put the tiniest little speck on a chip and I did. More chips and the speck grew larger until I was totally dipping. Now I like it. So I kind of think it’s an acquired taste.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Khyber Pass is an Afghani restaurant in St. Paul, and they serve a cilantro chutney along with some warm flatbread before the meal, and it is wonderful. I have learned how to make that chutney. Very tasty and not hard to make.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I’ve never been to Khyber Pass. My friend Dave’s cilantro chutney was very simple. It started with lots of cilantro, some lime or lemon juice, a little garlic, quite a bit of salt. I think that was all of the ingredients. We used to eat it with corn chips. I made it once but that was years ago and I’m not sure I could do it now. I thought I had it written down, but I guess I don’t.


  7. I’ve never been a nail biter, and like Bill, I’ve never been able to understand how on earth that can be comforting. Those fingertips look mighty tender to me.

    I love hot food, always have, though admittedly the food I grew up on was pretty mild. Danish food isn’t known for it’s heat, but fresh horseradish is prominently featured in a couple of my favorite dishes, and it can be hot.

    Husband and I both loved the Sri Lanka Curry House that used to be on
    Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis a long time ago. Husband was smitten by the beauty of the owner’s wife, I loved the food, though even their “medium” dishes were hot enough to make you cry.

    Mrs. Morgan from Morgan’s Mexican Lebanese Market just down the street from us, used to make fresh salsa. It was not very consistent in terms of heat, which depended entirely of the batch of jalapeños used, but occasionally she’d have a batch that was really hot. It was a regular Saturday afternoon ritual for me after playing tennis on hot summer days: consuming a bag of her home-made corn tortilla chips, fresh hot salsa, and a couple of beers – heaven.

    I love curries of all kinds and make a variety of them as the mood and inspiration strikes. Fortunately husband loves curries, too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I had been aware that there was a weekly curry pop-up here in the Twin Cities prior to the pandemic but had never gotten my act together to take advantage of it. I even had a bookmark for the website (now defunct) but with a little more digging, came across this:

      We haven’t been eating in restaurants much the last two years but if things settle down I look forward to checking it out.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks, Bill. Will have to check that out. You’ll probably beat me to it as the location for pick-up of take-out is a lot closer to you. I’d love to hear your report if you try it.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. There’s a place in Minneapolis called Thai Pepper, and they also have a little drive-thru in West St. Paul. The food is pretty fabulous, I think, but the West St. Paul location has been closed a lot lately. Either they are having trouble keeping employees, or perhaps the staff has been sick. Their egg rolls are the best.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, we’ve noticed that too. Hope they open back up. Their food is excellent, and very reasonably priced.


  8. I’m with Ben and Clyde on the subject of “hot” spicy food. Those of you that like food with a kick would think my diet is pretty bland – that “Minnesota spicy” thing. I am not a fan of Indian cuisine at all (except Naan – but does that count?). Food was the hardest part of my trip to India. In fact, I came home 4 pounds lighter. The only peppers you’re likely to find at my house are sweet bell peppers – but not green pepper. Can’t stand the flavor of that. One of my brothers-in-law loves food so spicy that his whole head turns red and you can practically see the steam coming out of his ears.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. We are making a spicy goat ragu this weekend, but I kind of think the spices like hot pepper, cumin, coriander, etc are more to mask the taste of goat than to enhance the dish for their own sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So glad you all like that Southwest Salad — haven’t made it in a while. I cannot do anything more than mildly spicy. I like different flavors and combinations, love cilantro, usually like most ethnic foods, etc., but cannot do spicy.

    I do not bite my nails, but I used to click my nails against my teeth as a youngster — there’s a difference!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. The picture takes me back to this past summer. My normal little hot pepper wasn’t available this year, I assume due to pandemic, so YA and I decided to plant a habanero instead. So that gave us a jalapeño, a type of jalapeño a little hotter and then the habanero for a total of three. And all three plants just went wild. I was giving habaneros and jalapeños away like crazy because there’s really only so many hot peppers two people can eat. I didn’t count them but I am not exaggerating when I say that I think they were at least 100 habaneros on that bush this past year!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I was a constant thumb sucker as a small child. Almost every picture of me from age 1 to 41/2 shows that, not that there are many pictures. Then one day just short of five I announced to my mother, who never made a big deal about it, that I was never going to do it again. And I didn’t. I bit my fingernails down to the quick from age what I do not know to age 16. One reason, it keeps grease from getting under the nails and grease is everywhere on a farm, especially haying season. I hated and still hate feeling of grease. Then in June before haying season I decided to quit biting my nails. And I did. Too bad I have not had that resolve about other bad habits.
    I do like cilantro within reason. I do not consider it at all hot. Spice chemistry is clearly very individual.
    Tomorrow I have 1.5 hours of prep. one hour of procedure under general anesthesia, I.5 Hours of recovery from that anesthesia, 2 hours of further recovery from the anestheticization of my throat. Going to be a long day

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve never taken the time to cook with, say, jalapenos or anything hotter, but I don’t like much heat in general. My Thai Carrot Soup calls for 1/2 tsp. of red (or is it green?) curry paste, which is just right for my palate. In a lot of recipes I just skip the jalapeno pepper, or use part of a can of mild green chilis. I do like cilantro in moderation, and I too don’t consider it hot, just foreign.

    I bit my nails till my uncle Darryl encouraged me to stop when I was in high school. I remember admiring them as they got longer and I actually had to shape them with an emery board or file. Then I gradually started picking at the cuticles and dry skin – this is mostly a problem in winter, and I try to keep them lotioned as much as possible, but I often have a bandaid or two to keep them safe. I notice it’s mostly when I’m a little nervous.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Good Evening Baboons,

    I am waaay late today after a busy day working.

    I like spicy food. The spiciest thing I have eaten is Green Chile Pork Stew that is popular in the Southwest, especially New Mexico and Wyoming. Years ago, a friend would prepare this dish for us. It was scrumptious, and nearly set my hair on fire. I am not sure what the Chili pepper he used was, but he roasted them the day he made the stew. You ate it with flour tortillas.

    I do not like cumin, which rules out curry. It tastes like metal to my tongue, not soap, which is so unpleasant. Cumin (ground coriander, I think, the cilantro seed) is one component of curry powder. I have found that the people who made curry for me, seemed to want to destroy my taste buds. I can be an adventurous eater, but I did not ever have a curry that made me ever want more. So I gave it up.

    Renee, I am listening to the book “Taste” by Stanley Tucci, the actor. It is a memoir of growing up wit parents who loved Italian cuisine and cooked it daily. He talks about food the way you and Chris do, so I think you would enjoy his aesthetic regarding cooking. I will probably buy the book because he provides recipes that I want to try.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Nope, coriander and cumin seeds are two different seeds that have a similar taste, and are sometimes used as a substitute for each other. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, but its taste is quite different from the fresh herb. The two seeds, coriander and cumin, don’t look the same either. Cumin looks more like fennel or caraway, while coriander is round.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I love cumin. It’s my go-to spice for soups like pumpkin or squash soup, or a Thai coconut milk soup with chicken. If you don’t like curry powder, I don’t think it’s cumin you object to. Curry powder is usually heavy on the turmeric.
        Curry dishes don’t necessarily have that curry powder taste – a Thai curry probably doesn’t have turmeric, or only a very light dusting of it.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. I love cumin too. Just the smell of it makes me hungry. I use it kind of like Linda does but I have also used it for chicken. I agree with Linda that it might be the turmeric that you’re responding to.


  15. i remember going into a high end chinese joint in downtown years ago and asking for my veggie dish to be medium spicy and when it showed up the first mouthful burned my tastebuds so much that i couldn’t taste the rest of the meal at all
    i complained to the waiter and got a shoulder shrug.
    when he discovered i was the guy paying the bill he tried to act like he cared retroactively
    it didn’t work i saved 30 bucks on the tip

    i had beautiful nails growing up and got comments from my classical guitar instructors about them
    my daughter is 22 so it was 16 years ago i stopped smoking cigarettes with no major issues but that’s when i started noticing the little uneven spots on the nail and began trimming them down with the edge of my tooth. not biting but planing down

    peppers today
    no to ghost
    no to habenario but yes to chipotle and others of similar

    just say yes

    Liked by 2 people

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