September 5, 2020

Piquant foods

Piquant foods actually cause a degree of pain, in a way that offends some eaters but excites and pleases others.

The word piquant first appeared in English in the 17th century and which derives from the Middle French verb piquer, meaning "to sting" or "to prick." Though first used to describe foods with spicy flavors, the word is now often used to describe things that are spicy in other ways, such as engaging conversation.

Americans' taste for spicy food is due to the wave of Hispanic immigration that hit the nation in the 1990s. But it’s also due to a growing number of Baby Boomers demanding stronger flavors to compensate for the loss of some taste buds during the aging process.

The piquancy/spiciness of hot peppers is primarily attributable to the presence of capsaicin (trans-8-methyl-N-vanillyl-nonenamide, a pungent vanilloid compound and dihydrocapsaicin. The capsaicin content of green and red peppers ranges from 0.1 to 1%.

Piquancy/spiciness is a highly desirable food attribute. In fact, chiles are eaten by one in four of people every day. Spicy food does not only provide an important hedonic input in daily life, but has also been anecdotally associated to beneficial effects on our health.

The ingestion of red pepper was found to decrease appetite and energy intake in people of Asian origin and white people and might reduce the risk of overweight and obesity. In addition, the bioactive agents in spices have also shown beneficial roles in obesity, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal conditions, various cancers, neurogenic bladder, and dermatological conditions.

The burn of capsaicin is estimated on the Scoville Scale, in units known as Scoville Heat Units. Basically, the amount by which a sample has to be diluted before the presence of capsaicin can no longer be tasted by a majority of tasters provides the SHU. Bell peppers score 0 on the Scoville scale, while jalapenos come in at somewhere between 5,000 and 50,000, and orange habaneros at 100,000-350,000 SHU.
Piquant foods

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