June 01, 2003

Congratulations to HM the Queen

Congratulations to HM the Queen on the 50th anniversary of her Coronation. Long may she reign over us.

Our Little Jamie Oliver

On the domestic front today, we got Aidie a play kitchen. He has a great interest in kitchens, both ours at home and the ones at the playgroup he attends. In fact, at the playgroup, all the boys are interested in the kitchens. Is it a coincidence that all the great chefs are men?

On a visit to the Early Learning Centre, a shop with toys for young children, Aidan became inseparable from the play kitchen, except when he would grab a plastic pan in one hand and a plastic utensil in the other and run for the door. The next time he went in there, arriving in his pram, he pulled and tugged to get free to play with it again. Unfortunately the ELC version cost £50. A little over our budget, that. So we got one from that universal purveyor of all things inexpensive, Argos.

I was a bit embarrassed carrying it out of Argos because the picture on the front is of a little girl. I didn’t want people thinking I was buying a little girl toy for my little boy (as he was there at the time). And then when we got it home and Mrs Holford started to put it together, it was immediately evident that there is a strong pink motif to the thing. It looks like a girl’s toy. Even Mrs Holford wants to paint it to make it look a bit more neutral. I think we have decided that the pink is going to become green.

And speaking of things in the kitchen…

Hot Hot Hot

We had tacos this evening – not unusual fare for us. Normally we use the Old El Paso taco seasoning, since it comes in a package with the Old El Paso taco shells, the only variety available on our supermarket shelves. However, as the package comes with twelve taco shells and one package of seasoning, it sometimes occurs that we have shells but no seasoning.

Not a problem. Mrs Holford just adds her own blend of herbs and spices. Because the meat had been in the freezer for a while and had lost some of its natural savour, she decided to go a little heavier than usual on the chili powder. We like things fairly spicy, but this stuff in our bottle of chili powder is dangerous. Just a little dab will do ya. Things got a little out of control and the taco meat was particularly potent.

The question naturally arose over dinner as to what makes chili and other peppers hot. We concurred that this was one of those answers that could no doubt be found on the Internet. And right we were. Have you ever wondered what caused the hotness – how something on your tongue could make your eyes water, your nose run, and perspiration to break out over your whole body? (If you don’t normally eat things that cause this reaction, you don’t know what you are missing – and you’re a wuss.)

It a chemical call capsaicin (pronounced cap-SAY-i-sin) a crystalline alkaloid. Facinating stuff really. It actually has no taste. It only acts on the pain receptors in your tongue and mouth. In doing so, it appear to block some of the taste buds from working. If strong at a high enough concentration, it can cause blisters in the mouth.

It does not appear to be lethal, however. In lab tests, scientists were only able to kill rodents by virtually drowning them in the stuff. Or by whatever method they are killed to autopsy them, thereby demonstrating that they weren’t killed by the thing with which they were testing them. One study did show, however, that an average-sized human might overdose and become unconscious by consuming half a gallon of Tabasco Sauce.

The hotness of various peppers are actually measured scientifically in Scoville heat units. This is determined by the amount of capsaicinoid parts per million. One part per million is equal to 15 Scoville units. To give you an idea of the scale, bell peppers have 0 Scoville units. Jalapenos average between 2,500 and 5,000. Habaneros, the hottest known pepper can be as hot as 300,000 Scoville units. Pure capsaicin have a Scoville score of 16,000,000. Potent stuff.

And finally…

Reliable Sources

Thanks to Josh Claybourn for the link to a Guardian article on why bloggers are dominating the search engine results over the established media. I don’t normally read the Guardian, so it good to see it’s good for something.

Posted by david at June 1, 2003 11:04 PM