Hooked on cowhorn peppers (and possibly "happy hormones")
August 1st, 2011
12:00 PM ET
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Come summer, it’s not unusual for me to fall apart during dinner and shed a few tears. No, there’s need for cheering up, thank you, but please pass the tissues.

The waterworks come courtesy of cowhorn peppers growing contentedly in a big flower pot outside my window and burning my mouth to a crisp every time I take a tiny bite out of one or add a sliver to my favorite sauce.

I’m not a spicy food person. I know a lot of people will go out of their way to order anything with the “hot” symbol on the menu, but I’m not one of them. I have a low tolerance for it and I’ve never been big on breathing fire at dinner.

Yet here I am, choosing to turn all red and teary-eyed during home-cooked meals - something I wouldn’t dare do in a restaurant.

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Filed under: Gardening • Hot • Ingredients • Make • Peppers

July 30th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
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CNN staffers took on a double-dog dare to finish a dish made with bhut jolokia - a pepper so hot it's been weaponized. Sara Sidner, a Delhi-based correspondent, share her first-hand account.

I don't do eating stunts; it's just not my thing. I don't like watching people shovel huge amounts of doughnuts or pies or whatever else down their gullets to win a prize. It's part guilt - knowing there are hungry people in the world - and part disgust, because it makes me gag to watch.

Turns out I am a hypocrite. While in New York City, I did as some of the locals do and took a food challenge. It's called the "Phaal Curry Challenge," an idea thought up by Brick Lane Curry House in New York's East Village. Basically, the owners dare patrons to eat an entire bowl of their spiciest curry - Phaal Curry. It has a total of ten different types of chili and peppers in it.

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Hot • Indian

Heat-seeking eater seeks nuclear noshes
July 2nd, 2010
01:00 PM ET
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It took two glasses of water and a bowl of white rice to douse the fire set by a forkful of Washington D.C. Kung Pao chicken.

I love spicy food, and so did my dad. He's where I got my masochistic love of foods that taste like the business end of a flamethrower. Growing up, grilled Serrano peppers were a frequently side dish to any Mexican food my mother whipped up. Legend has it that my mother tried to get me to stop sucking my thumb as a kid by soaking the digit in jalapeno juice. This plan backfired.

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Culture • Hot

Eatcyclopedia – capsaicin
June 23rd, 2010
09:30 AM ET
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Eatcyclopedia is our ever-expanding glossary of food terms, and we'll be highlighting a term from it each weekday. The entries include definitions and, where applicable, pronunciations and country of origin - all spelling bee competitor style. Want us this use it in a sentence? Okay, here goes.

Use: I'm a major chilehead, so the more capsaicin, the better.

Read the full entry for "capsaicin."

Got a term you'd like defined? Tell us in the comments and we'll do our best to add it to the glossary.

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Filed under: Eatcyclopedia Daily • Hot • Think

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