Spicy foods can be enjoyable to consume, but not if they end up being overpowering. This can end up ruining a meal because it's so intense with its heat and burns your mouth. Due to this, we tend to stay away from hot or grilled meals, like chili, that often include spices.
However, there's a way you can enjoy a slightly intense taste in these foods without fear of it burning your tongue. Below you'll read more about why this happens and tips as to how you can help prevent it from occurring so you can get back to enjoying meals that tend to be very strong.
While the French cuisine doesn't have many hot dishes, that isn't to say that they don't exist. You'll find lentil stew and many starters and dishes that include the flavoury Espelette pepper. There are also many sausages that contain some fiery spice ingredients.
So, why exactly does our body respond the way it does to hot ingredients? The answer lies with a common ingredient found in hot dishes, capsaicin.
Capsaicin is found in things like hot peppers which instantly activates your taste buds once you eat them. This ends up tricking our body into thinking it's in a hot environment. You'll start to feel a burning sensation and the need to drink water. You might also start to sweat due to your body trying to cool itself down.
While it's common to reach for a glass of water when this happens, don't. Dairy is a much better way at cooling your tongue down when you eat these dishes. This is due to dairy containing a fat compound called casein which connects with the capsaicin to eliminate the burning sensation. In other words, it works to dissolve the intense taste while water only helps to intensify it.
Take a look at these suggestions you may pair your hot meal with:
Put some crème fraîche on the side: if you plan to make a hot meal, then have some of this delicious cream on the side. This thick cream is great for meals because its flavor isn't sweet and makes it a great side to have with a day meal, like stew.
Drink some wine: wine can actually help to calm down your taste buds. Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are great choices to consider because of their slightly fruity taste.
Eat some bread: eating a slice of bread can help to absorb the capsaicin and works rather quickly. You can place it on your tongue to help with this.
While it can be easy for people to not eat these dishes because of their intensity, they actually are very good for your health. While hot, capsaicin is known for helping to prevent inflammation. By having a side of crème fraîche, slice of cheese, wine, bread, or glass of milk nearby, you'll be able to limit the intense effects these meals can have.
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