Extreme chilli: it’s like swallowing coal
Australian chilli expert Neil Smith reckons eating chillies is ‘‘as good as’’ taking drugs.
He was at Auckland’s Hot Sauce Festival on Saturday, reviewing the big black mama - a super spicy, tear-jerker of a chilli - before the annual New Zealand Chilli Eating Championships kicked off.
‘‘It’s like someone’s shoved a hot coal down your throat,’’ he called out with a hiccough, neck veins pulsating, after swallowing the wrinkled maroon fruit. ‘‘And my gums have started going ‘whow - whow - whow.’’
Smith, 50, said he loved eating eating burning hot chillies for the after effect - an endorphin rush as good as drugs.
‘‘I think that’s why a lot of people get into chillies, ‘cause of the feeling you get afterwards,’’ he said.
He said people didn’t need to use illegal cannabis. They could just munch chillies.
Smith reckoned the spicy fruit were addictive: ‘‘After a while your tolerances do build and what you find is you have to find hotter chillies to get that kick, or buzz,’’ he said.
Smith had been growing, processing, and reviewing chillies at the Hippy Seed Company in New South Wales since 1998.
He was something of an inter- net sensation with fans around the world.
His wife was one, and the pair met when she asked him a question on Twitter about growing chillies in Denmark.
She moved to Australia and they’ve since been married five years.
Extreme chilli eating is not for sissies. Last year ghost pepper puree burned a 2.5cm hole in an American man’s oesophagus.
To win the 2017 NZ Chilli Eating Championships, 12 contenders ate their way through a lineup of chilli species that vary in spiciness.
Event organiser and Kiwi chilli grower Clint Meyer said hopefuls started off at the relatively human-friendly jalapeno and climaxed with a big black mama, via the world’s hottest chilli - the Carolina reaper.
Each chilli had to be held in the mouth for 30 seconds before being swallowed. If you drank, left the table, or vomitted, you were out.
Meyer said he had expected ‘‘a lot of tears, hiccoughs, grimacing faces, and people throwing up’’ during Saturday’s competition.
The event was held at Sweatshop Brew Kitchen.