I previously wrote that the kochi is a demon chili, not fit for consumption. This is true. It’s just that I’m now addicted to it.
Over the past week I’ve been putting this chili in everything and frequenting a lunch kade that liberally and somewhat randomly doses it out. Why? I don’t know. There’s something addictive about this plant.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilis, causes pain. The plant is producing this substance to stop us from eating it. In response, the body releases endorphins, which perk you up and make you feel kinda good. I experience this as a palpable opening up of pores on the scalp and a general rise in bodily sensation.
This, of course, is followed in quick succession by snot, tears, and burning, burning pain. The experience is something like riding a roller coaster for lunch.
The thing about the kochi chili is that it’s much, much stronger than the regular green or red chili. When you cut it open, you can feel and smell the heat. I’ve put kochis in a salad, rinsed my hands and touched my temple. The spot tingled for like half an hour afterwards. Now I scrub my hands vigorously, and I still end up with random burning sensations.
And this is something I put in my mouth. Indeed, if I lick my lips after eating my lips burn, requiring a quick and liberal application of yogurt. At my lunch kade, the guy just brings the yogurt out immediately after I eat.
And yet I keep coming back for more. To a degree I get the chemical part. Like tobacco, it lowers your body’s operating level so that returning to normal seems like a blessing. After a particularly chilacious meal I go through phases of 1) why did I put that in my mouth 2) when will this stop 3) my God I’m glad to be alive. Like magic mushrooms or ayehusca, chili often makes you suffer before you appreciate it.
To another degree, chili actually cools you down. Paradoxically, the sugar in ice cream actually warms you up while the sweating induced by chili makes you cooler. It also clears your sinuses. But none of this is it.
Whatever the reasons, it just makes food taste good. I miss it when it’s gone and add more of it than I need. It takes eating out of the realm of nose and tongue and makes it an all-body, occasionally out of body experience. Must thank the colonials for introducing it.