When it comes to handling heat, there are two very different types of people in this world: the spice shunners and those who insist on adding chilli to everything.
And according to new research, your preference for the pepper doesn’t just reveal a significant amount about your palate. It also speaks to your character.
“Chilli likers are adventurers,” write Melanie Mühl and Diana von Kopp in the book How We Eat With Our Eyes And Think With Our Stomach.
“In Mexico, for example, eating chilli peppers is regarded as a sign of strength, valour, and masculine attributes.”
This was also backed up in the first ever study on chilli ingestion by the University of Pennsylvania. It was found that students across the US with a penchant for spicy food were also partial to daring and potentially dangerous activities like driving fast, parachuting and swimming in ice.
The common denominator? All of these activities require a certain amount of fear conquering.
“Eating of chilli, riding on roller coasters, taking very hot baths and many other human activities can be considered instances of thrill-seeking or enjoyment of ‘constrained risks,’” co-author Paul Rozin explains.
“Chilli stimulates an innate sensory ‘warning system, but is not harmful. The enjoyment of the irritation may result from the user’s appreciation that the sensation and the body’s defensive reaction to it are harmless.”