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! :-)