Why do Mexicans like spicy so much?

chili picante

This post is also available in: Español

Mexico is a paradise of spicy food. There is no dish on a Mexican family’s table that doesn’t have some spice in it.

In today’s post, we tell you why they like hot chili so much in Mexico.

Pre-Hispanic time

If there is something more known about Mexican culture around the world, besides the Mayan culture, it is the use of spicy food in all its meals.

This consumption of spicy bell pepper in Mexico goes back many years, even to pre-Hispanic times.

It is said that chile, along with corn and beans, were the first crops to be domesticated in these regions through the planting method known as chinampa. As a result, the use of these foods became very popular and began to be used by all of society.

hot chili peppers mexico

Today, these three ingredients are still some of the most consumed by Mexican society. If you make any of the excursions in Riviera Maya, it will be impossible to find you a place to eat without some of these three ingredients.

Why do you like so much the hot chili in Mexico?

Although tradition could be one of the reasons, there is a scientific explanation that demonstrates why the popularity of hot chili in Mexico.

Within each hot pepper, there is a component called capsaicin, which is what causes the burning sensation when you eat it. To fight the burning, the brain releases endorphins, which is the substance that generates the sensation of pleasure.

That is to say when the chili pepper bites you in the mouth (and not only in the mouth), the brain tries to fight it. As consequence, it ends up producing a pleasant sensation that invites you to take more. This causes an increase in the levels of serotonin, which is the substance that gives us the sensation of wellbeing, which can cause this addiction.

To be even more exact, the Mexicans and all the other brave people who eat so much spicy food, have an addiction to the feeling of well being produced by eating chili.

This addiction has led to the use of spice in all kinds of foods, even in Mexico, there is a variety of beer that is made spicy. Is alcohol better combined with spice?

If you are planning to visit Mexico for the first time, you should get used to the spicy one because it will be difficult to eat some of its dishes without chili.

cocktail spicy beer mexico

Hot chili pepper scale

To find out which is the chilliest in the world, there is a chilliest scale. It is called the Scoville Scale, and it measures the amount of the substance capsaicin found in each of the chili varieties.

Within this scale, 16 million units are the maximum possible result. Although the Havanese chili is one of the most popular it is not one of the hottest. It has a capsaicin content of about 300,000 units.

In the number one position of the hottest chili in the world, it is known as the Carolina Reaper. It is produced mainly in South Carolina (USA) and contains 2.2 million units on the Scoville scale, i.e. 2,200,000 units of capsaicin.

As a curiosity, in 2017, a new variety, the Dragon’s Breath was self-proclaimed as the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a score of 2.4 million Scoville units. In spite of this, this score has not yet been demonstrated, and in the Guinness Book of Records, the Carolina Reaper still appears as the hottest chili in the world.

What about you? Do you like spicy? Would you dare with one of these two chilies?

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1 Comment

  1. I have a serious pain reaction to capsaicin – the inside of my mouth & my tongue become painful & inflamed, which lasts several days. Eating can be a challenge. (my poor mom had it too)
    BUT: I want to know WHY food manufactures, restaurants, prepared foods, & all of the chefs on TV put a myriad of HOT chile
    peppers, ( & other hots, like too much ginger & garlic) in at least 95% of the dishes they make.?
    Salsa, sauces, nacho cheese, guacamole, etc., say on the front “Mild”, but they lie. Turn it around & read the ingredients. (I have to these days!). Always has Jalapeños in it, & sometimes other peppers. If it’s not Mexican food, cayenne pepper is the culprit. This trend is spreading to other foods, making them inedible for “sensitive” people like me, mom, & I’m sure there are many more.
    Why not put the hot stuff in a packet(s), to add if you want to or not. It’s done all over the food world. I’ll never understand how many people love the feeling of burrning, searing, scream-worthy, “food”. It’s masochistic but, to each their own……

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