Learning Opportunity

It's a cool fall day as I write this and the weekend is quickly approaching. Like most weekends, this one will include cooking. Some of that cooking will no doubt be inspired by the things I've read or wandered across online during the previous week. In particular, a couple of items caught my eye and have me thinking about making spicy food and slow-cooked food with lots of garlic. Since they managed to inspire me, I thought I'd share them with you as well!

The first is an article about why chillies are hot and how researchers manage to make them even hotter. Chillies store most of their heat in the membranes that seeds are attached to, not the seeds themselves. The spicy nature of chillies has come about as a defense mechanism to keep mammals from eating them and destroying the seeds they need to have scattered about to reseed. Birds don't digest the seeds, so they make great vehicles for effectively scattering the seeds.

So how do plant scientists make them hotter? Using various tricks to convince the plants that they are being threatened by hungry critters that will digest their seeds, clever scientists have managed to produce chillies with greater and greater heat. The hottest yet has been developed in Australia. What do plant scientists there recommend for cutting the heat? "Something with a lot of fat in it - like yogurt or milk - is going to dissolve the compound and wash it away," says Mark Peacock, a plant scientist from the University of Sydney, who this year helped to cultivate the world's hottest chilli, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. "My favorite remedy is olive oil," he says, "but it's not the most pleasant." Get the details on this fun blend of food and science in this article.

The second item I wanted to share is a clever video brought to us by the folks at SAVEUR magazine. Executive Food Editor, Todd Coleman, shows you how to peel a whole head of garlic in less than ten seconds. Yes, that's right. Just 10 seconds. You will be looking for reasons to use heads of garlic at a time just so you can show others this nifty trick! Enjoy!