Many people consider African and Asian dishes to be spicy. Mexican food is also considered spicy and is famous for it. That might be because the chile pepper was domesticated there, with hundreds or fresh and dried varieties cultivated there and used across the country. Chiles are a staple of Mexican cuisine that are used in salsas, stews and vegetable dishes, to name a few. A true Mexican dish always has at least some form of chile in it, whether it’s fresh, whole dried, flakes or ground. If for some reason the dish does not contain any chile, then hot sauce will be served along side it.
The Scoville Heat Scale
The Scoville scale is a measure of the ‘hotness’ of a chile pepper or anything derived from chile peppers. The scale is named after American Pharmacist Wilbur L. Scoville who developed it in 1912. This scale actually measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active ingredient that produces the heat sensation for humans. Bell peppers do not contain capsaicin and rate a 0 on this scale. Habanero peppers have a lot of capsaicin and have 300,000 Scoville units. They are one of the hottest peppers found in Mexican food. Poblano peppers contain 2,000 units and jalapenos contain 5,000 units. These are other chiles that are often used in Mexican cuisine.
Spice & Flavor
The flavor of chiles is also important. Certain peppers go with particular ingredients to give the dish the taste it needs or is known for. For example, chipotle peppers and jalapeno peppers have similar Scoville scores but taste very different. A chipotle pepper has a smoky flavor whereas the jalapeno has an herby flavor.
How to Handle Spicy Food Better
Spicy foods become an acquired taste. Even babies in Mexico are only given spicy foods little by little until they can tolerate the same as teens and adults. It should also be noted that just like any food flavors, there are those that will never learn to like the heat of a chile pepper. Even those native to Mexico may never really warm up to the heat of a chili pepper.
Spice & Mexican Cuisine
Even though Mexican food is known to be spicy, it’s not all spicy. Common everyday food is completely capsaicin-free and can be garnished- if desired- to suit the taste of the person enjoying the dish. This is often done with bottled sauces and other chile-based condiments. The amount of capsaicin in a Mexican dish can vary greatly. It will depend on who is cooking and who is being cooked for. If chiles are the main ingredient in a dish there are tricks that can be used to diminish its spiciness. This can be done with the addition of sweet or sour cream or by being eaten together with blander foods like rice and beans.
Traditional Mexican Cuisine in Las Vegas, Nevada (Just Minutes from Summerlin, North LV & Henderson, NV)
Mexican cuisine offers a wide range of spiciness that can be enjoyed by anyone. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant has as multitude of dishes waiting to be explored. We look forward to serving you!