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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Apple pie not American?

The bhut jolokia pepper

We have heard the expression "As American as apple pie" many times but theoretically, it is incorrect. Alexander the Great found apples in Asia Minor as early as 300 B.C. and they eventually worked their way to America in the 1600's with the colonists. While the apple came from elsewhere "it has been transformed into a distinctly American experience" according to John Lehndorff of the American Pie Council.

Do you know the three fruits that ARE native to North America.? They are cranberries, blueberries, and Concord grapes. As the Ocean Spray guys say: "Cranberries didn’t come over on the Mayflower, they were already here."

Then there are peppers. I love the taste of Jalapeno peppers although I can only eat them in bits because they are so hot that I go into hiccuping fits. Don’t ask why, it’s just the way they affect me. The scary thing is that the Jalapeno is one of the LEAST hot peppers as listed on the Scoville Unit scale which measures the hotness of chili peppers. Jalapenos have a Scoville rating of 8,000.

The hottest? It’s the "bhut jolokia" pepper with a Scoville rating of 1,000,000 which is 125 times hotter than a jalapeno! That makes it the hottest pepper in the world replacing the former hottest, the Red Savina. I now have total respect for the people of India as they eat these things either by themselves or as an ingredient in certain foods. There are warnings to not let these peppers or their seeds get into one’s eyes. That is, if you enjoy seeing.

Since I am such a wimp even with the lightweight Jalapeno, I’m sure the bhut jolokia would kill me instantly. That may be one reason it is nicknamed the "ghost pepper." It is even 10 times more powerful than the Habanero!

My favorite Mexican restaurants in Scottsdale are Jalapeno’s and Los Olivos. Los Olivos in particular has a great tradition in the area as the Corral family established it in downtown Scottsdale in the mid 1940s. As much as I like the place, I think that from now on I will make sure to tell them to "hold the ghost peppers." I’m sure they don’t use them, but it never hurts to be sure. Whew!

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