Monday, January 9, 2012
A "Burning" Question
I really can't handle hot, spicy foods. Even chewing cinnamon gum for a few days in a row will burn my tongue. I feel sort of embarrassed about this because I do enjoy food and there are lots of things I just can't eat because of the amount of spice, and often they are things that are delicious but I just can't handle more than a few bites. Brahm, however, really enjoys eating spicy foods so we were both kind of surprised at a discovery we made the other week.
We were finishing off an amazing meal at Weczeria with a piece of gingerbread cake. It was delicious, but I felt like it was not spicy enough. Just as I was about to comment on this, Brahm said "It's just got the exact right balance of spice - not too spicy but not too bland either." I was sort of shocked to hear this revelation, because here was someone who loves spicy food saying that a piece of cake that I thought was lacking in spice was just right??
I brought this up and we were both kind of surprised. I mentioned that I prefer anything spiced with the "pumpkin pie spice" family (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, etc.) to be as "spicy" as possible, and he said he wasn't a fan of too strong of a pumpkin pie spice flavour. I'd made a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving that I felt was still a little bland when I finally stopped dumping in all the spices, but he admitted that it had actually been on the verge of being too strong.
So weird! Although the "spiciness" of those pumpkin pie type spices is quite different than hot, capsaicin spiciness (the kind found in chili peppers), it's still kind of strange to me that someone who likes a capsaicin spiciness can find the milder spiciness of cinnamon, for example, to be too strong for their liking. (Although the cinnamon gum tongue-burning issue doesn't really fit in, however cinnamon gum is hardly a natural cinnamon product...)
I had always assumed everyone was on the same page as me though - but have I been baking too-strong pumpkin pies all along? I asked a few of my girlfriends about this one day and they were all on my team: when it comes to the pumpkin pie spice family, the stronger the better. Spicy gingerbread, pumpkin pie, chai tea - dump in a whole container of cinnamon and we'd love it. Some were capsaicin fans and some weren't, so I don't think there's a connection there one way or another.
So now I'm really curious about this whole thing - is it a woman thing? Is Brahm's palate just less/more sensitive than mine/most people? If there was ever a post I want people to comment on, it's this one - help me shed some light on this! What's your gender and how spicy do you like your gingerbread?
(Some cookies I made a couple Christmases ago - to my recollection they were not quite spicy enough.)