Thursday, December 25, 2008

Theorizing Chillies

I have never fancied eating chillies for the reason that they merely give you a false sensation. How could you know the real taste of food, if you keep pouring the chillies into it? I even have theory: as chillies only disguise the richness and variety of food's taste, one will consume more of them only when they need to do so --for instance, when I am short of cash and can not afford variety of food like in those college years.

Scientifically, as read in Xmas Specials section in The Economist, my theory seems to be confirmed:
The reason may be that capsaicin excites the trigeminal nerve, increasing the body’s receptiveness to the flavour of other foods. That is not just good news for gourmets. It is a useful feature in poor countries where the diet might otherwise be unbearably bland and stodgy.
But I need more convincing empirical finding, and maybe household survey data could help by showing the relationship between chillies consumption, or purchase, to total income --presumably after controlling the price.

Yet, even if I am right. How could you tell why, as the article suggests, that, thanks to globalization, people in developed countries start to embrace chillies?

Then perhaps, I need to resort a second speculation: The food in developed countries are even more bland than in developing countries. So bland that it cancels out the income effect.


  1. and it is a cheap source of vitamin C.

    The body react by releasing pleasure into brain after the pain of chilli in tastebud subside.

    The gain after (cheap) pain

  2. Vitamin C? If that's the case, I'll go for orange or tomato any given day :-)

    Beside, it doesn't really support my theory because developing countries are vitamin C abundant, no?

  3. I agree with your 2 points:
    - that chillies only destroy the taste of our food that's already spicy
    - that people in developed country eat chillies more today because they found that their cuisines are actually very bland compare to cuisines from some developing countries.
    These people might have been interested in 'gourmet' food after traveling into or working in those countries or after getting more migrants coming into their countries.
    I guess globalization has a fair share in this change of taste-buds.