Simple, refreshing summer appetizer. Watermelon and jalapeno peppers. Dice a quarter to a half of a seedless watermelon (depending on size). Seed a jalapeno pepper and dice. The pepper itself is not too hot and carries a nice crisp taste, but if you’d like a little bite then keep some of the seeds. Also, I like to have latex gloves in my kitchen arsenal for working with peppers. Nothing worse than getting pepper juice on your fingers then rubbing your eyes (or worse, parts lower…). Add a sufficient quantity of minced fresh cilantro. Mix and devour.
Now for a few science points. First, it’s commonly thought that the heat from a pepper comes from the seeds. While the seeds do impart some of the heat, it is generally because of their proximity to the “pith” which is the rubbery flesh generally residing on the rib of the pepper which support the seeds. Capsaicin, the chemical which causes the burning sensation, is made in the glands of the pith and therefore gets onto the seeds. If you’re not aware, capsaicin is also used as a pain agent for arthritis (kind of like Ben Gay). When applied to the skin it has been found to deplete substance P—a neurochemical that transmits pain—which desensitizes a person to pain. Cool huh?
Second, the scale which is used to rate the “hotness” of peppers is called the Scoville Scale. For reference, bell peppers have a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of zero, jalapenos are around 3500-8000 SHU, and the Habanero come in at a whopping 100,000-300,000 SHU. Again…wear gloves while handling peppers!
The Grilled Atheist