10 | Mar | 14

Richard Johnson

Hey Hot Stuff

This is a story about Britain’s love affair with the chilli pepper. Not the round, fruity, rewarding chilli pepper you understand. Oh no. The chilli pepper that, like toxic waste spill or lip remover in a bowl, causes you so much pain that it’s like stepping on a Lego brick in the middle of the night. As a young man I ate the habanero pepper soup of death and lived to tell the story, but never again. It was like eating red-hot needles. And no amount of milk could deal with the paralysis that crept over the left side of my face. I’m fine now, but I ate that soup seven years ago. At BSF we’re fans of a more judicious, discriminate use of chilli. Check out our adoring profile of Britain’s biggest chilli farmer. And when I was judging at Chilli Standoff, I was looking for something a little more pedestrian. I’ve just got back from judging duty in Bristol, where Tim Hayward and I fell over ourselves to praise the delicate Szechuan spicing of Chilli Daddy in this year’s BBC Food and Farming Awards. But the “Who can eat the hottest chilli in the world?” stories will never go away. It’s part of who we are. For the latest chapter, see the Daily Mail.