Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Complainin' and Complainin'

I seem to be drawn to conflict.

I was watching a programme last week on the UK's Channel 4 called Food Unwarpped, in which presenters aim to teach the public just where their food comes from and all the intriguing behind-the-scenes work that goes along with it (green and black olives, shelling cashews nuts, etc.), and while I do find the show both entertaining and educational (shame on you!, something cannot entertain AND educate!), I was taken aback by a segment on Series 2, Episode 6, where they claimed that Capsiacin, the chemical in chillies that causes the burning sensation, was really just a smokescreen and all the damage was done in the mind!

Now I know what you are thinking: But AC, Capsiacin DOES play tricks with the mind. It doesn't ACTUALLY set your mouth on fire.

And this is true.

But clever clogs that they are, these TV people, they often forget that some human beings take the 'It's all in your mind' as an excuse to do stupid things, without asking more probing questions.

The part which properly annoyed me was watching the segment presenter, Jimmy Doherty, (yes, he of Jimmy's Farm fame) speak to a scientist (yes, a scientist. And in a WHITE LAB COAT. It makes any claims or assertions valid since an empiricist is backing it up) from Bristol University, who proceeds to prove that 'It's all in the head' by dropping some PURE CAPSIACIN extract on a raw steak in one plate, and SULFURIC ACID on another steak on another plate.

Cue the CILLIT BANG moment:

Look, the Capsiacin does nothing to this steak!

Oh, but look at the damage done to the steak by the Sulphuric Acid! Ouch!



First off, the steaks are chunks of dead meat. No live nerve endings or ANYTHING to tell it 'Dude, that Scientist in the white lab coat just poured a teaspoon of pure capsiacin crystals on you.You should be screaming now.'

Second, while it IS in the mind, Capsiacin fools the mind (the pain receptors all along the skin) into thinking it is on fire, and if the mind BELIEVES this, then it will react PHYSIOLOGICALLY to the perceived threat (redness, sweating, possible blisters and skin irritation, raised heartbeat, etc).

But, of course, the zombie meat cannot perceive this.

And since sulphuric acid physically damages almost anything with dramatic, corroding effect (good TV, eh?), well, you can see where I'm going with this.

Interestingly, the Scientist lady was wearing gloves while handling the Capsiacin, and never directly touched it.

Pure Capsiacin extract is processed under highly controlled conditions by people who would otherwise seem to be handling the Ebola virus.

The Ebola Virus...of the mind!

Jimmy, I'm sorry to say this, but if it really is 'all in the mind', you wouldn't mind uploading a video of you dipping your bare hand into a vat of pure capsiacin crystals, would you?  

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Recall of the Return of the Revenge?

It has taken me close to two years, but I have once again decided to plant chillies.

In the meantime, I imagine quite a few people have grown disenchanted with this particular blog, and I don't blame them. Blogs are supposed to be maintained at the very least semi-regularly.

Truth be told, having a small offspring of mine own (well, I am 50% owner, Almapaprika owns the other 50%) has proven to be a life changing experience.

The little 'un is amazing and fantastic, and I cannot but marvel at every discovery made by this wee person, even the ones that leave both parents screaming 'DON'T TOUCH THAT!!!'

But the chilli bug has been itching for a while.

A few months back, in the thick of a bitter English winter (I know, I know, no such thing as a 'bitter English winter' in The United Kingdom of Mild Britain and Milder Ireland', and yet, the climate would seem to want to make fools of us all), a stranger approached me at work, and said ominously 'are you the guy who grows chillies?'

To be honest, being picked out of the blue from a random stranger as 'chilli growing man X' does not surprise me...well, not anymore. I guess i've been peddling my capsaicin trade long enough to be known by at least one stranger to me or possibly two.

Turns out this chap was an acquaintance of Dr. John (see videos in this blog), who wanted to know a bit about growing chillies.

I ended up giving him a veritable capsicum cornucopia.

And I also ended up having the urge to grow chillies again.

Except the wee one gives me virtually no free time to look after the few plants Almapaprika and I have at the moment. It is a miracle most of them are still alive.

I thought of a list of chillies to plant, wrote it down, went into my black seed box...(Yes, I have a black seed box. It is not exclusively for the keeping of chilli seeds, but it is where all my seeds are kept.)

...and promptly placed that idea in the back burner for the better part of three months.

However, the scorching English summer (I know, it almost sounds like I am writing about some mythical land with proper seasons.) as well as another request by a friend at work has made me rethink this venture, and, armed with renewed vigor and impetus (or possibly hallucinating thanks to the wee one...did I agree on a name...let's call offspring Numero Uno 'Pequin'), yesterday I finally pulled thumb out of respective bodily orifice and proceeded to plant some chillies!!!

In the middle of JULY, I know.

They will be overwintered chillies.

But nonetheless, here's the list of participants:

- 4X Orange Habanero
- 4X Chocolate Habanero
- 4X Black Naga
- 4X Barrackpore 7-Pod/Pot
- 2X Datil
- 2X Scotch Bonnets

I will give my friend at work some of these, probably some of the Chocolate Habaneros and Orange Habaneros, just to make sure I don't end up blamed for some late night experimenting with chillies gone horribly wrong.

But even before all that, a more important question needs be asked:

Will they even germinate?

These are two-plus year old seeds...

The adventure begins anew! :-)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

That darned list of things growing

Righty-o. Here's the list of things growing in our garden/inside the house this season. It includes things that were overwintered. I'm starting with the fruit first, because this year there's an abundance of fruit growing (well, attempting to grow) in the house:

4 Strawberry (if they overwintered)
4 Raspberry Canes
2 Gooseberry plants
1 Blackcurrant plant
1 Goji Berry plant
1 Blueberry plant
1 Grape Vine (probably dead. Will see in the spring)
*The Strawberry Guava looked strangely dead as of this morning :-( I don't know how or why, since it seemed fine during the harshest part of winter. But I guess it may have been to early to have it spend an entire winter outdoors.
Also, the Suriname Cherry is starting to pick up on its growth, as is the Myrtle.

Veg! (and yes, I am including things that by definition are actually fruit, or as Almapaprika just said 'ya wouldn't put them in a fruit salad, would ya?', well, except for the Watermelon...but they haven't germinated, so not included)

Borlotti Beans
Coquina Squash (a sweeter variety of butternut squash)
Buttercup squash
An unknown acorn squash from TESCO
Purple Corn
Super Sweet Sweet Corn

More on the list later...


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Small Bundle of Chillies


I should have tried to get some writing done in the last year, but as is to be expected in life, things happen.

My new degree was proving to be far more work than I anticipated, and just to add to the pile of work, Almapaprika and I moved house.

Not too far away, mind you, and away from the horrible balcony of of floral death, into a nice little house in a small village complete with a garden. No south facing garden, but at least a decent sized garden. Even got two little apple trees.

Oh, and just to add a cherry to the sundae of my life, Almapaprika and I have a little chilli all of our own!


He's fantastic, our little Cascabel.

And more of a handful than we both anticipated.

He's also the reason why I won't be doing oodles of superhots this season.

Don't want the little 'un to be mistaking Nagas for Candy. ;-)

I am keeping a Scotch Bonnet that was given to me by a friend that I've overwintered (the Scotch Bonnet, not the friend), but my chillies this season will only be Fresnos and Jalapenos.

I've also started sowing a lot of beans, squashes, corn, tomatoes and aubergines (eggplant) which I shall talk about in more depth later.

For now, I have a lot of seeds to sow, and photos to take and upload.


Nice to be back.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A 'Planned' Break

A quick break from Chillies (gasp!) to talk about another of my interests in life: architecture and urbanism (where, much like chillies, you don't really know how hot and spicy a topic is going to be until you bite down on it.).

I've been asking myself of late as to the motivation behind my love for 'the built environment' (more now thanks to the stress of my dissertation and the lack of time I have at the moment to properly give it my all).

I guess thinking of home (Aji Chombo Land) was one of my main reasons for becoming enamored with the topic.

Bit of a strange thing, since, and I write this in earnest, it can at times be an amazingly ugly city.

Traffic Jams left and right. People building what they want, where they want. One hundred buildings over 40 stories high...

...and not a single fire engine that can reach even the middle floors in the event of a fire.


But this is, in my optimistic eyes, the diamond in the rough.

All of the grime that covers urban planning in AC Land needs to be lifted so that the true beauty of the city (and indeed the country) may be fully appreciated.

And there is a lot to appreciate.

I love the challenges inherently present in cities.

Cities have order and chaos, euphony and cacophony. There is motion, change and evolution within them, and at the same time, there are elements that remain as constant and ever present as the sun.

Looking at a city and seeing ways to clear the clutter.

That is what I love.

It's not so much about establishing order as it is about solving problems.

Or better still:

identifying the potential for problems so that they do not happen in the first place (after all, problems only occur when we don't foresee them and stop them from materializing).

Bizarre and beautiful dance this is, urbanism.

Because it never depends on one person, either (can you imagine if dancing was limited to one person in a vast space?)

Much like in dancing, you will most likely have a partner. Much like in dancing, there will be other couples of varying degrees of experience on the dance floor with you, and rest assured, heels will be clipped and toes will be stepped on.

But it cam be immeasurably rewarding if 'the rhythm gets you'.

It is a convoluted thing, planning.

But one which I enjoy thoroughly.

In a convoluted way...


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Aji Lemon Drop

Took this photo a second ago with the camera at work. The pod was on top of an architecture book I was reading and just looked awesome. This is the second Aji Lemon Drop that has matured so far.



Friday, 8 July 2011

Mutant Chronicles/Genocide

I am in the middle of waging unrelenting war with Aphids.

They invaded my plants a few weeks back when we had a rather 'unseasonable' June heat wave in the UK (yes, unseasonable. You look out the window today and you'd know why. It's in the teens, gloomy and rainy...and this is July), and now there are hundreds on my plants.

Things got so bad, I had no choice but to break out the SB Plant Invigorator to control the little cretins. Right up to that I had tried controlling them with some sticky tape (running it along the pods picking up the aphids), but this was now getting out of hand.

After one thorough spraying at the beginning of the week, they are now doing much better. They still have aphids, mind you, but they are much better.

I'm starting to get antsy, because there are at least three plants that should have ripe pods by now: The Lemon Drop, the Cayenne Golden, and the Ring of Fire. Come to think of it, the Stromboli and the Goats Weed aren't that far off.

Good News Everyone!

The Trinidad Scorpion x Giant White Habanero cross has two little pods!

Oooooooooh the excitement is palpable now! Really looking forward to that one.

Off to return to work I go!