For those who love food with a burn, you know how difficult it
can be to find spicy experiences that live up to their claims. While
restaurants often advertise their dishes as being dangerously hot, it’s not
easy to please a true pepper head. Luckily, the following destinations offer
genuinely spicy experiences that will leave you pleasantly perspiring and your
palate burn addiction satisfied.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Home to the USA’s best Cajun and Creole, visitors to New Orleans
will have many opportunities to savor spicy food. Your first stop in the city
should be the Pepper Palace, home to the Hottest Sauce in the Universe: The 2nd
Dimension, which claim’s to be the hottest hot sauce around the globe and beyond.
Here you can sample over 1,000 hot sauces, jams, dips, butters, salsas and
spreads free of charge. At District Donut Sliders Brew, hot heads can sample a
strawberry-jalapeno with cream cheese icing donut, while Sukho Thai offers a
menu of homemade sauces, with one -- called Thai Hot -- that will have you
screaming for a fire truck. For a drink, Batch Bar serves up a “Heated
Situation” made with Anaheim Pepper-infused vodka, while Basin Seafood &
Spirits creates the “Yucatan Firecracker,” featuring pickled jalapeno. And for
a local spicy dish order a hot sausage at venues like Creole Country,
Vaucresson Sausage Company and Crescent Pie & Sausage.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Known as the “Chile Capital of the World,” there’s no shortage of
spicy experiences to be had in New Mexico. In fact, the state is the only one
in the country to have an official question -- “Red or green?” -- in reference
to what kind of chile you want with your meal. While you can find
chile-inspired offerings all over the state, Albuquerque in particular has a
number of attractions and events that bring the heat, for example, the annual
Viva New Mexico Chile Festival in nearby Los Lunas featuring fresh chiles,
chile-infused foods, a chile cook off, agricultural exhibits, outdoor games, live
music and more. Other chile-focused things to do include sampling free chile
chocolates at The Candy Lady, picking your own green chiles at Wagner’s
Farmland Experience, sipping at green chile beer at ABQ Brew Pub, munching on
green chile pizza at Farina Pizzeria, relaxing with a red chile-infused
“Ancient Drumming” spa treatment at the Tamaya Mist in the Hyatt Regency Tamaya
Resort & Spa. At El Pinto during chile season -- which runs from about July
to October -- you can watch freshly picked green chiles being roasted and enjoy
complimentary samples of the spicy pepper. Keep in mind that simply walking
into a New Mexican restaurant allows you to sample a number of green
chile-infused dishes. For a spicy day trip, Hatch is located less than three
hours away and is where New Mexico’s signature variety of chile is grown.
Home to the hottest pepper in the world -- the Trinidad Scorpion
Moruga Blend -- those wanting to feel the burn should head to Trinidad. In
fact, the pepper registers at over 2 million Scoville Heat Units, equivalent to
about 400 jalapenos. If you want to try the pepper for yourself, simply browse
the many markets and supermarkets on the island. For a festival experience, the
Divali Nagar is a celebration of Hindu and Indo-Trinidadian culture with a
spicy side. The event is well known for its food vendors serving a special dish
that packs a ton of heat: pepper roti. The extremely spicy meal features two
buss-up-shot rotis stuffed with spicy peppers. And as majority of Trinidad’s population
has an East Asian/Indian background along with European, African and Caribbean
influence, you’ll be able to sample a number of other tongue-tingling dishes
like doubles, roti and tamarind balls, made even hotter by adding the popular
island condiment of homemade pepper sauce.
Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Located in the foothills of Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka introduces
visitors to the land of wasabi. The prefecture is Japan’s leading
wasabi-producing area, meaning you’ll be able to experience a variety of
interesting wasabi-enhanced foods: wasabi white chocolate, wasabi ice cream,
wasabi pudding, wasabi spreads, wasabi salad dressings, wasabi pickle and even
wasabi shochu and sake. Keep in mind not all wasabi is created equal. In
Shizuoka you’ll sample true wasabi, ground fresh from the wasabi plant. While
it’s not hard to find great wasabi establishments, it’s not always easy to get
around when you don’t know the area and signs aren’t in English. A smart idea
is to hire a local guide who can take you to meet local wasabi farmers,
see how wasabi is cultivated, taste wasabi-infused foods, and shop at “chachka
stands” for products dyed green with natural dye from the wasabi plant.
While Indian food in western countries tends to pack a lot of heat,
you haven’t tried anything until you sample the cuisine in the country itself.
India’s culinary culture focuses on both spice -- dishes containing a variety
of spices like aniseed, cinnamon, coriander and cumin -- and heat, which comes from the common use
of ingredients like chili powder, dried red chilies and fresh green chilies.
This leads to dishes that impart a slow burn even the most passionate pepper
heads find hard to handle. For a truly call-an-ambulance-my-mouth-is-on-fire
experience, vindaloo curry is touted as one of the world’s hottest dishes.
Featuring meat marinated in red wine, garlic and vinegar, it’s then stewed in a
broth of Bhut Jolokia (ghost peppers), named the hottest chili pepper in the
world according to the Guinness Book of Records until 2012 when the Trinidad
Moruga Scorpion took over the title. Sampling the meal will be the highlight of
the trip for any spicy food enthusiast.
What's your favorite spicy food?