Monday, March 26, 2007

Spice it up

Whenever I’m not pleased with something I just cooked, I make it spicy hot. Not too much, but just enough to draw my family’s attention away from an otherwise blah taste. Usually, this trick works.

Growing up, I did not like spicy hot foods. I was always very cautious about what we called siling labuyo, the small but terrible chili pepper that burns your mouth. The only pepper that I could tolerate was the bell pepper and the mild light green long pepper that we put in sinigang.

In recent years, I have become braver with peppers and chili sauces, thanks to the influence of some of my friends and homestay students from Korea. Gino and Mickey have acquired the taste for spicy hot foods too through their own gastronomic adventures outside our dining room. The younger boys love the Kimchi bowl noodle I buy by the box. We have all developed the taste for the spicy hot, which by the way, is not really a form of taste.

“It’s pain!” a friend once told me. I never knew that until then, and it did not register in my brain until I heard it explained on TV and after further readings on the Internet.

Question: So why are spicy hot foods addicting once you start to like them?
Answer: The nerve endings in your mouth feel the pain and send a signal to the brain which then releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, which then create a temporary feeling of euphoria. Who doesn’t want euphoria?

There. That’s my simple re-statement of what I have read and heard from different sources.

Euphoria aside, I find that hot chili is a very convenient ingredient whenever I could not quite figure out what’s lacking in the dish I’m cooking. As they say, “Tabasco covers a multitude of culinary sins.” The heat of chili is overpowering.

Last night, I tried a new recipe I found in a flyer and made Spicy Beef Thai Stir-Fry. I substituted a few ingredients with what I had available. I wasn’t happy with the end result. Time to throw in a pinch or two of dried chili peppers.

“This is good!” Bud eclaimed at dinnertime.

Hah! Euphoriaahh!

No comments: