I have this Norwegian friend that sometimes comes to visit me and my family here in the UK. And every time he turns up, he seeks out the spiciest food going. Apparently Norwegian food is notoriously bland.
So I kinda understand his situation. But there are plenty of non-Norwegian folk that go for the spiciest thing on the menu, whatever the case. This doesn’t make so much sense to me. As far as I am concerned, anything above a relatively mild level of spice just acts to destroy the flavour and your taste buds, both for that meal and more long term. I’m not saying spicy foods are bad. Not at all. In fact when you look at how many cases of bowel cancer appear in Asia compared to Europe, it makes you want to add a sprinkle of turmeric to your cereal in the morning.
Most articles seem to suggest that the adrenaline rush is the culprit. Like bungee jumping or watching a horror film, you get a sense of fear, lack of control, and overwhelming adrenaline flooding through your body whilst consciously knowing that you are entirely safe. So it makes sense that people might want to experience this, especially when you can do it at home in front of all your mates. I’d also add that much like alcohol, where you can build up a tolerance at the expense of your liver, you can also build up a spice-tolerance at the expense of your tongue. Obviously you then need more spice for the same kick and so it goes on…
I’m not trying to complain. Spice is great. Flavourful. Good replacement for caffeine (from the capsaicin in chillies). Makes food wonderfully colourful. Let’s just not overwhelm the actual flavour of the food though, eh?