Yesterday morning, the Fiery Food Challenge, a spicy food contest held in Irving, Texas, resulted in one judge being carried away on a stretcher. The judge in question was ironically the owner of Chili Pepper Magazine, who was hospitalized after sampling a blind entry in the hot-sauce-with-extract category, ominiously labeled #337. Fellow judge Larry Wampler said, "That's a nightmare in a bottle. Awful."
Capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers, the stuff that makes those nuclear wings nuclear. And capsaicin extract is so controversial that it was even banned from the Fiery Food Challenge for a time under previous ownership. A new law adopted by the European Union may even prohibit the sale of hot sauces with extract there.
As befitting a blind taste test, judges were given scant warning of the nature of the beast, so to speak. After the first few white plastic spoons met taste buds, chaos ensued. Judges hightailed it for a table laden with whipped cream, cheddar cheese, and milk. A troubleshooting Wampler frantically distributed raw sugar packets. The man who was evenutally hospitalized had made the mistake of drinking a glass of water, which is a counterintuitive no-no. Chilis are water insoluble, so water only disperses the oils instead of breaking them down. This is why I stick with boring old Tabasco.