Spicy Food and Roller Coasters

By The Editorial Staff

Photo by Dane Feldman.

NPR recently published a story that briefly details how our personalities can be linked to whether we do or don’t like spicy foods, such as hot sauce. The story explains that researchers have looked at this possible link before. In the 1980s, a University of Pennsylvania professor found “a connection between liking roller coasters and liking spicy food.”

We at BTR found this tidbit so intriguing that a handful of us have decided to share our thoughts on the matter. So, do we like spicy food? What about roller coasters?

Tanya’s Take
Spicy food is delicious. When I lived in South Korea for year, I ate gochujang (the national red pepper paste) on dishes every day and never got bored of it. However, the one time I rode a roller coaster there, I threw up the second I got off. I hate roller coasters. Maybe I have a strong tongue and weak stomach.

Michele’s Take
I don’t seek out spiciness in my food, although in the past few years I’ve tried to adjust myself to the red pepper flake phenomenon. Sometimes I’ll venture to eat a spicy dish, trying to trick my brain into liking the burning scorch left on my taste buds.

Roller coasters are more my style of adrenaline. The sensation of the free fall and the drop off into the abyss of air and clouds is one way to feel weightless. What separates roller coasters from spicy food is that if there’s fire involved, it’s kept at a safe distance.

Zach’s Take
I’m kind of a culinary masochist when it comes to spicy foods. My general rule of thumb is the hotter the better. My old roommate and I used to see how far we could push it–it culminated in each of us devouring whole habanero peppers in a single bite, without water.

Turns out you can hallucinate heat waves, should you choose to. I’m far less adventurous with other things, though. For instance, I hate roller coasters. Heights aren’t my thing. You can convince me to ride one with you, but I won’t like it.

Molly’s Take
I do not like spicy food. I can enjoy a plate very mild buffalo wings but for whatever reason, I’ve never enjoyed the feeling that (I imagine) is akin to my tongue and throat being literally set on fire. I’m also not very adventurous when it comes to food in general–my mother regularly accused me of being a picky eater as a child.

In regard to roller coasters, though, I’m a bit more adventurous. I won’t go all out with roller coasters–riding the scariest or the most menacing in the world–but I can enjoy them every once in a while on the rare occasion that I visit a theme park.

So, I suppose, I tend to prefer moderation on the safer end of the adventurous spectrum both in terms of roller coasters and spicy food.

Lisa’s Take
I was not raised with blazing seasonings stimulating my sweat glands more than my taste buds. Growing up with a Puerto Rican mother busy in the kitchen every evening smothered my palate with the succulent likes of sweet plantains and red kidney beans.

My only experiences with spices hotter than the occasional buffalo sauce were in my childhood when my two older brothers would trick me into eating tablespoons of red pepper and wasabi at a family outing, telling me it would taste like candy.

Roller coasters, on the other hand, give me a physical jolt that makes me feel alive like nothing else. I can ride Kingda Ka over and over again with much enjoyment and thrill.

Dane’s Take
I am slightly picky when it comes to spicy food, but I like most of it. I don’t put wasabi on my sushi and buffalo sauce gives me heartburn, but I love red curry, red pepper flakes, sriracha, and hot peppers like the habanero and kung pao. I even grow them in my garden and Dish + Drink has handfuls of recipes featuring all of the spicy ingredients I love.

All the way through my childhood and teens I loved roller coasters. I waited for two hours to ride Superman the summer it opened at Six Flags Great Adventure. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a theme park so I don’t know how well I would fare now, but oddly enough I seem to be the only one that fits the bill. I love spicy food and I love roller coasters.

If all this has put you in the mood for something spicy, whip up a batch of this Chilled Spicy Cantaloupe Soup (but maybe don’t hop on any roller coasters right away).