Yesterday, I went toTaco Asylum
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, the current It place of OC dining. You'll have to wait for my review of it when I have the time to write it (probably tomorrow; editing Edwin's review for next week right now), but I did want to devote a separate post to one of the ingredients it's making a shitload of hay about: the bhut jolokia, the subcontinental chili known as the ghost pepper and multiple times hotter than the infamously hellish habanero.
The ghost pepper is a clunker.
Sure, Taco Asylum presented it in severely mitigated forms: as stringy wisps in one taco, and as a hot sauce in another. It did burn, and my intestinal tract is still roiling--but my problem with the ghost pepper predates my Taco Asylum experience. I have previously bitten into a raw ghost pepper before and experienced its burn, but the chili is lacking--smoky like chipotle, but without a lingering sweetness; hellish like habanero, but without its citrus aftertaste.
Contrary to what frat boys believe, Mexicans and other pepper-loving cultures eat them for flavors, for the promise of palate-pleasing deliverance from the agony of the heat. I toss serranos into my pozole not just for its spice, but also for its verdant bouquet. We roast and pickle jalapeños for their fleshy texture, not just for their heat. The bhut jolokia only functions as a gimmick, and the world shouldn't bother with the Miami Heat of peppers unless trying to show off--and if you're showing how tough you are by eating peppers, you better be drunk, a teenage boy or wagering cash. Otherwise, you're WEAK SAUCE.