When I was in college, a friend of mine got engaged to a Thai woman, and he told me the story of him visiting her family in Southeast Asia.
While there, he was served some sort of dish sprinkled with tiny peppers. Deciding he might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, he took a big bite, and that was, according to him, a big mistake.
The peppers were the spiciest thing he’d ever tried in his life, and all of his future in-laws sat around laughing at him. Indeed, hot peppers from that part of the world are no joke, as members of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra can attest.
According to Time, the orchestra decided to attempt a performance after eating “some of the world’s hottest chili peppers.” Just how hot are said peppers?
Well, the Wall Street Journal once published an entire article dedicated to the bhut jolokia, a pepper originating from northeast India. In 2007, Guinness World Records gave it the dubious distinction of being the world’s hottest pepper.
Measuring it by Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), it tops out at a whopping 1 million SHUs. To put that in perspective, most self-defense pepper sprays range from 2 million to 5 millions SHUs.
So, the pepper is seriously hot. R.B. Srivastava, director of India’s Defense Research Lab, stated, “I’ve been told the U.S. and Israel have considered it for antiriot material.”
According to PepperScale, the performers ate bhut jolokias, Carolina Reapers and Trinidad Moruga Scorpions prior to performing. A video released by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra showed the painfully funny results.
After musicians and conductor alike popped whole peppers into their mouths, chewed and swallowed, it looked as though the piece will continue as planned. The show must go on, right?
Well, not so fast. As the soaring strains of spirited music rise to the performance halls rafters, you begin to see signs of distress.
Musicians blink. Their faces start to turn pink — and then red.
A quiet horror begins to manifest itself in a violinist’s eyes, the desire to keep his composure obvious despite his evident discomfort. Wind players swipe hands across their mouths when the time comes to lower their instruments.
Tears start to stream down one player’s face. Others blink frantically, trying to focus on their music.
Finally, they begin to mop their sweating brows and rub their running noses. As soon as the piece ends, groans and coughs resound throughout the hall as the musicians flee.
Talk about a fiery performance! As impressive as the display was, though, that’s an experience I’m happy to only have vicariously.
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