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Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Commentary, Ingredients, Korean Food | 0 comments

Does heat plus pain equal spicy?: Calif. university research

Does heat plus pain equal spicy?: Calif. university research

Why humans enjoy a painfully spicy meal but not mosquito bites or repeated punches to the face is what scientists at University of California, Davis, are studying intently

People enjoy spicy foods such as 고추장 gochujang in Korea, sambal ulek in Indonesia, harissa in North Africa or pri-pri in Portugal and South Africa, or many other spicy condiments sprinkled all over the world.  Americans can’t be left out, with homegrown Tabasco as well as centuries-long appreciation for fiery spices such as mustard, ginger and horseradish. 

spicy-spoons
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Standard Korean spices are (counterclockwise, from bottom left) gochujang, cayenne powder, black pepper and sesame oil. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

The goal of the research is to find a way to help people better manage pain and treat cardiac dysfunctions and neurological disorders:

The study also helps elucidate why humans are sensitive to capsaicin, but other species, such as birds, are insensitive. In fact, humans are the only species in the world that intentionally seek out the enjoyable pain of spiciness.

If it includes human test subjects eating gallons of 김치찌개 kimchi jjigae or gochujang, sign me up.

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