Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Hot Stuff: Habanero Chile Peppers

Habanero chiles

Originally uploaded by Manny Santiago.

There are those that like it hot and those that like it hotter. Those who like the real hot stuff must worship habanero chile peppers. Habanero (pronounced ah-bah-NEH-roh) chile peppers are 30 times hotter than the jalapeno chile pepper.

I can already see sweat bubbles pouring off some as you contemplate the habanero’s hot factor.

According to Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion, habanero chiles are about 2-inches long and are shaped like a lantern (think abstractly) and usually are yellow-green to yellow-orange in color. Habaneros grow in the Yucatan, Caribbean, and northern tip of South America.

I used to hang out with this guy named James and he carried around a vial of habanero powder. His taste buds were shot after decades of smoking and drinking and he sprinkled this potent powder on everything – egg dishes, sushi, Korean and Thai food, hamburgers, everything. I once saw him sprinkle some on scotch on the rocks. All he had to do was uncork the vial and my eyes started to water.

By what other name is the habanero known as? (Hint: 2 words) Real hot stuff lovers won’t need to google this.

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