You’ll all laugh

But my ignorance of vegetables is unbounded. A friend gave my wife a chili bush of some sort, which was planted in the garden. It has small white star-shaped flowers, and bears these fruits:

Hot Damn!

They are surprisingly hot. But does anyone know what they are called?

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8 Responses to You’ll all laugh

  1. Mrs Tilton says:

    They are called ‘peppers’, I believe.

  2. acb says:

    You want I should paint more legs on them?

  3. J. C. Fisher says:

    Something in the general vicinity of the jalapeno, I would guess?

  4. Mrs Tilton says:

    J.C., in the vicinity of the jalapeño they certainly are, but jalapeños as such they are not. Having had the misfortune to be in Texas, I can assure you that jalapeños are much shorter and stouter, and also rather less knobbly. (It is a very long time since I have been in, or even on the same tectonic plate as, Texas; but I bought a jalapeño just this past week-end at an astonishingly well-stocked local market hall to be sure I could refute your jalapeño hypothesis accurately.)

    Andrew’s specimens look somewhat like peppers I have seen used in Italian, Turkish and Thai cuisine. The mediterranean variants are faintly warm, but few would call them ‘surprisingly hot’ (we must remember, though, that Andrew is English). The Thai sort are scorching indeed, but as I did not require hospital treatment thereafter are presumably much milder than the infamous habañero or Scotch bonnet.

    I daresay there are many, many sorts of longish thinnish slightly knobbly capsaicin-bearing peppers out there. It’s a bit hard to determine to species level via a web-published photo, especially given that (i) I am not remotely a botanist, and (ii) Andrew hasn’t given us any indication of scale (unless perhaps he has persuaded a tame C. elegans to pose in the corner for comparison purposes, in which case I must get a monitor with better resolution).

    Perhaps Andrew’s wife’s friend holds the clue that will solve this taxonomic mystery.

  5. acb says:

    Knowing the wife’s friend, I would be astonished. I’m grateful, though, to know that they are not Jalapeños.

    These are not as strong, I suppose, as the Thai sort in the local supermarket — I chopped six of them into a chile con carne, which worked out at about one per portion, and it was perfectly edible. They are nothing like a Scotch Bonnet. I once popped one of those, whole, into my mouth, so I know.

    I apologise for the lack of c.elegans. Since they’re largely transparent, I might just put in a one pixel web bug and claim it was the scale bar.

  6. Mrs Tilton says:

    Did you eat a Scotch bonnet, so, and live to tell of it? I have long wished to make my own jerk seasoning, but a thread on Theresa Nielsen Hayden’s site intimidated me too badly. (At minimum, it seems, you must handle Scotch bonnets only in an approved Level 4 biohazard lab, wearing a pressurised space-suit, and must immediately dissolve yourself in acid when you are done.) One commenter mentioned that dilute chlorine bleach will neutralise the peppers’ hypercapsaicin on the skin, whilst contact-lens wetting fluid will clear it out of the eyes. Should I ever work up the courage to touch a Scotch bonnet in the kitchen, you may be sure I will have tankards of bleach etc. at hand.

    If you are making chile, BTW, you might try using chipotlé peppers. These are nothing other than our old friend the jalapeño, dried by smoking over a wood fire.

    This page has lots of stuff about peppers. Seems that all are variants on a only a handful of species of Capsicum. C. chinense is the Scotch bonnet, habañero etc.; C. annuum are pretty much everything else people outside Latin America are familiar with: poblanos, jalapeños, even the boring old bell pepper. Peppers, then, rival the dog for polymorphosity. Big list of different peppers on that website, BTW; oddly, nothing that was immediately apparent as your own, unless perhaps the De Arbol.

  7. acb says:

    I didn’t eat it: I popped it into my mouth after the waitress pointed it out and said something emphatic in thick creole that I took to be an endorsement. Then I took it out of my mouth. Tears of apparently pure capsein ran down my cheeks; tears also afflicted the waitress as she watched me, pointed, and then walked around the restaurant telling each table what had happened. By the time she had finished her round and stopped laughing I was able to notice that small blisters had formed on the inside my lips where the pepper had brushed them on the way out.

    I shall go and look at that page.

  8. acb says:

    Having done so, I have ordered the Jean Andrews book in the hope that it has pictures.

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