Certified Spiciness

firebus's picture

A lot of restaurants representing cultures with spicy cuisines offer dishes with a choice of heat level.

However, there is a LOT of variance in the actual spiciness of dishes at a given heat level, both from restaurant to restaurant, and even from chef to chef.

Originally I was going to propose a device that would measure the scoville units of a dish, along with a training and certification system so that multiple restaurants could offer a guaranteed comparable scale of heat.

But on reflection, the real problem is just that "hot" is ambigous.

Sometimes it means "the culturally correct amount of heat for this dish".

Sometimes it's "as hot as we think white people can handle it"

And sometimes it's "let's punish the bastard".

So I think it would be best if, instead of the very subjective "mild, medium, hot" scale, restaurants instead gave you a choice of "absolutely no heat at all", "even though I said hot the waiter doesn't trust me because i'm white", and "the way grandma used to make it, no refunds".

That would allow the top level of heat to always represent the culturally appropriate level, and then it would grade down to zero heat on a curve from that max.


You lost me. First you talk

You lost me. First you talk about measuring heat in an objective fashion using scovilles, then rail against the subjectivity of heat in order to argue for an even more subjective replacement.

When you come to the conclusion that solely measuring scovilles to certify hotness wouldn't help, you're mostly right. But the physical pain reaction that people experience through the tastebuds is not based ONLY on how hot the food is, it's based on how sensitive they are to that heat.

So, what's needed is an empirical system for food AND eaters, so that the food can be created to various scoville standards, and then consumers can be tested for sensitivity, and be rated/qualified for higher scoville levels as needed/desired.

The closest analogue I can think of is motorcycles - it's not just the CCs/weight of the machine, but the height/weight/strength of the rider all come into play. Most solutions in the biking world involve qualifying to progressively more powerful rides through successive tests, and that MOSTLY eliminates 80 lb. girls riding 1200cc rice rockets into storefronts as a daily news event (Youtube citation not needed, but desired).

So, you know, you'd go to the Burrito Palace, and order a "Taco 5000 al pastor", and show your badge* if there's a fuss.

*Yes, you do need them. And you will pay an annual fee to keep it. And you will be happy about it or we send you to England.

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