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Offbeat – 16 August 2013

http://pierremare.blogspot.com

Conscious evaluation of that risk has to remind you that you could have died, which should make you happy that you are still alive, unless you are one of those people on the far end of the curve among the Russian Roulette players.

I bought some chilli plants a while back. They grew well, and haven’t stopped. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, they are not particularly hot. It makes sense in a demented sort of way. A nursery would buy mild chilli plants, because who wants to be on the receiving end of an angry client who had his or her mouth assaulted by a plant that you sold them.
Some people aren’t cut out for the hot stuff, but then they shouldn’t be buying chilli plants anyway. Perhaps they should stick to black pepper for their culinary adventures. Myself? I’m a white pepper sort of person. Make mine hot, just this side of sweaty, with a bottle of Habanero Tabasco by the side, just in case the hot stuff needs reinforcements.
I used to eat hotter than that. I remember an evening when two little yellow things that looked not unlike mini yellow paprikas made us both blaspheme. So small. So violent. So wild it was memorable. It’s not a thing I would knowingly repeat, but I am glad I have that memory.
I am a Tabasco fan. I have tried most of the hot sauces out their, and they are normally either too mild, too sweet or too excessive, like bringing a tank to a gunfight. The green variant of Tabasco is too insipid for my taste. The red variant does just fine for most occasions, and the Habanero is good for slightly wilder moments.
Aside from the salt and the vinegar in them, there is that mild adrenalin charge. I haven’t analysed it yet but I suspect it happens before the first fork-full hits the mouth.
Let’s get down to the analogy I have been building up to. Tabasco and chillies are culinary adventures. They produce a mild rush of adrenalin. It’s a bit like trying to walk across a busy road in peak traffic. You know you can make it, but you know there is a risk as well. In spite of the risk, you take your life in your hands and do it. The greater the amount and faster the speed of the traffic, the bigger the thrill.
If you examine the moment rationally, the logical choice would be to walk to the nearest zebra crossing, or even safer yet, walk to a light. Instead, you take the short-cut, and this can only be put down to an impulsive thrill because saving those few seconds is not going to stack up against living a few years longer.
As I sit here and write this thing my mind turns to advertising. Perhaps the prospect of potential injury or death is just the thing to tip the balance in the favour of the seller. I’m not talking cigarettes here. Those things sell by being addictive. I’m talking about products that offer you the risk of death if you aren’t absolutely alert and together.
Actually that sounds a bit like tourism. Bungi jumping, anyone? What about off-piste skiing or white water rafting? How about a stroll through some of the seedier parts of any major world capital? Do you see what I mean?
There must be a kind of economics to adrenalin production. Most people will happily skitter across the street in rush hour. Quite a few people will happily accept the risk of jumping off the side of a bridge with an elastic cord tied around the waste. The people who are jaded enough to play Russian Roulette are few and far between.
The graph looks a bit like a bell curve in my mind. You could probably flatten it a bit by adding a cost variable.
The return to the risk is interesting. It has to be a metaphysical valuation of life. Conscious evaluation of that risk has to remind you that you could have died, which should make you happy that you are still alive, unless you are one of those people on the far end of the curve among the Russian Roulette players. Perhaps there’s a religious application in that, a way to combine church attendance with extreme adventure. Maybe there is a prayer on the lips of every bungi jumper. I won’t go there just yet.
Personally, I am going to stick with the concept of hot sauce as my primary source of joy. I hope I don’t become too accustomed to Habanero. The idea of running in traffic is still a bit too frightening.

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