What geography has to do with spicy food preferences


If you love spicy food...

It may be because it gives you an adrenaline rush, but the preference for spicy food generations ago may have had more to do with geography than simply a deep love of experiencing anything from the hot pepper scale. Flash forward to today, and the dishes you crave may be related to where you grew up, and what you were exposed to early on. It makes sense that at one time peppers were only found in certain parts of the world, but even today it seems people who live in certain locations are more likely than others to eat and crave hot and spicy food on a regular basis.

In one survey, researchers found that in places where the annual temperature was higher, there was also more spice used per recipe.

Other theories suggest when you eat spicy food you sweat, and that may have helped people living in hotter parts of the world cool off. It’s thought before the times of refrigeration, spices may also have been used to help food stay edible. In that respect, the spice used may have had at least something to do with its antimicrobial properties.

When spices finally came to Europe and they became more readily available.

There’s another theory that they became less thrilling and less attractive to the Europeans who were once the only ones who could attain them. That could explain why even in countries where spices became available, some people reverted to using less spice over time. On the other hand, culture would suggest that once we mentally decide something’s safe to eat and we get used to it, we like it more. That could translate to spicy flavors too, such as hot peppers. Some people choose hot peppers now for the flavor, others for the adrenaline rush. The thrill factor for some people today could be part of why they seek out hot peppers. It could also be for the simple bragging rights.

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