What is the best way to fight the burn of spicy food?

Now we know: Opt for milk instead of water to help combat the fiery heat

Make sure to have a glass of milk handy when you’re eating  spicy dishes. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Make sure to have a glass of milk handy when you’re eating spicy dishes. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

“Pay attention to the news. Vote and make sure your vote is real. Make sure it’s a real democracy and that we’re not being controlled by outside forces.” Natalie Portman is saying these words to camera, her eyes red and streaming with tears. She just about has her voice under control; it’s quivering and threatening to break. She’s clearly in physical pain.

But it’s not the subject matter of the interview that has her so upset; it’s the fact that she has just been interviewed by Sean Evans while simultaneously eating vegan chicken wings doused with increasingly fiery hot sauce.

Evans is the host of the YouTube series Hot Ones. The charm of the show is Evans’ ability to deftly interview celebrities while coaxing them to eat progressively spicier food. Charlize Theron, Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Terry Crews and DJ Khaled have previously graced the hot seat and all have succumbed to the accumulative heat of this spicy interview process.

Ordeal

How do these brave celebrities make it through the ordeal? Do they get any respite from the heat? Portman, a vegan, downs pints of almond milk throughout her interview, while Franco sits through the ordeal with two glasses of milk and a glass of water in front of him. Someone tries to give Theron a glass of water after her interview. “Water makes it worse,” she says, reaching for a glass of milk instead.

In an interview with Hot Ones producers, FirstWeFeast.com, James Beck, aka Hot Sauce Boss and owner of Houston’s iBurn, bigs up milk and cream as a way to cool a treacherously overheated palate. “I’m all about the science,” Beck says in the piece, titled How to Prep and Recover from Spicy Foods.

“Capsaicin [the active heat component in chilli peppers] is an oily substance by nature, so something fatty will bind with it, to help it go away. I prefer whole milk. The fat in the milk will get rid of the capsaicin that hasn’t latched on to your nerve endings, and there’s a protein in dairy products called casein that have a detergent effect on the burn.”

Have a look through the episodes of Hot Ones for some inspiration on how to test your tastebuds to the limit of spiciness. Just don’t forget to have a glass of milk handy if you do follow suit.

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