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Spicy genes?

Posted on | November 16, 2007 | No Comments

I love spicy food. When I refer to spicy food, I’m referring to things that touch you taste buds and cause you to cry for milk and mommy, in that order. I can drink hot sauce straight, I can eat ultra hot peppers such as habanero peppers like grapes, I could probably snort cayenne pepper if it weren’t for my desire to retain my sense of smell.

I have really, really buggy sinuses. Before going to bed, I like to make a spicy snack, usually consisting of ground meat, chow mein noodles, peppers and two eggs over easy on top. I find that eating spicy food just before bed makes me snore less, relax and not get kicked so many times by my wife due to sonic disruptions in the key of ‘Zzzz’.

Not long ago, my two year old daughter took an interest in my bed time snack, refusing to sleep until she had shared whatever it was that was in my bowl.

“No, sweetie, this is spicy, you can’t have it” was answered with an emphatic “MMMMMPH!”. “Ouchie!” while pointing to the bowl produced a similar response. Fifteen minutes of convincing my two year old that the substance in my bowl might cause her to burst into flames proved to be an exercise in futility.

This kid was not going to sleep until she had a taste. First, the eggs.. hoping that she’d be satisfied. No go, she knew that something unfamiliar was beneath the eggs. Finally (as usual) I caved, offering her a very small piece of a red hot noodle while preparing to extinguish her. She popped it in her mouth and then some interesting things occurred.

First, her eyes grew very, very big. Next, her eyebrows slanted downward toward her nose. Finally, she emitted the loudest “YUMMM YUMMM!!!!” ever heard in the history of human kind.

Before I was able to escape my shock, my two year old helped herself to a hand full of noodles that would make most grown men cry, then proceeded to stuff the lot in her mouth and begin chewing. Again, “YUMMMM YUMMMMM!!!!” , even louder than before, this time featuring a symbolic open palmed tummy rub.

We sat and shared my atomic bed time snack until it was vanquished. My daughter then rolled over with a smile on her face and went to sleep, happily.

I’ve read about chemicals that chocolate releases, I often wonder if a similar endorphin release is triggered by spicy food by those who might be predisposed to respond to such things. My wife can’t touch a bag of hot fries without tearing, whatever dwells in my kid that loves atomic cooking must have come from me.

Whenever I eat spicy food, I feel better than I felt before. Finishing off a jalapeno pepper is more preferable for me than drinking a few beers. I’m wondering, are there some of us predisposed to loving the spice of cooking? If so, why? Why does spicy food allow me to sleep when so many other remedies fail? Why does spicy food seem to eliminate anxiety and stress for some people?

Maybe Tabasco will put some cash into further research. I’m content to be amazed that my two year old can giggle when many grown men would cry.

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