101 Chilies to Try Before You Die is an all-in-one guide to the fruit of the genus Capsicum, or chilies, which contain capsaicin, a natural chemical that causes effects ranging from a slight tingle on the tongue to stinging pain. It is that heat that makes chilies a dynamite recipe ingredient and a taste challenge.
The author has selected a cross-section of 101 chilies from the five commonly cultivated chili species. The listings note their place on the Scoville scale (a measure of heat). Sidebars describe the species name, the appearance of the pod, how to grow the chili, seed suppliers, culinary usage, and alternative names. Text describes where the chili originated, its introduction to regional cuisines, the people who developed it, and more. There is information on varieties, how to dry or preserve the pods, and suggestions and recipes to create sauces, rubs, and spice mixes.
The 101 chilies are organized into five categories based on their heat profiles:
- Sweet and Mild -- While some of these 23 chilies are familiar (e.g., Cubanelle, Hungarian Hot Wax), a bit of experimentation will yield surprising taste discoveries, like the Zavory Pepper which is one of many newer chilies developed to retain the taste profile of a hot Habanero while being mild.
- Warm -- 51 chilies make this the largest category. Jalapeno, cayenne and tabasco live here, but there are many warm varieties that range from hot-sweet to lemony, with unique uses in the kitchen.
- Hot -- Hot is hot and for many people these 14 are quite hot enough. But some may still tempt the brave, like the exceptionally tasty, sweet, fruity, citrusy Goronog.
- Very Hot -- These eight are for the truly courageous. The Bubblegum 7 was named by its amateur breeder who found that it reminded him of Bubblicious Bubblegum.
- Superhot -- The current Guinness World Record holder for hottest pepper is the Carolina Reaper, clocking in at 2,890,000 SHU.
101 Chilies to Try Before You Die is a fascinating climb up the Scoville scale. It is a food guide, recipe book, culinary history, and the ultimate reference for chili enthusiasts, fans of spicy food, and those who want to challenge their taste buds.
About the Author
David Floyd has been making and selling chili pepper products for over 20 years. His website, the Chile Foundry (www.chilefoundry.co.uk), supplies thousands of people in the UK and Europe with chilies and chili-related products.