Andrew, a loyal MR reader, has a request:
- Tyler, why don’t more people like spicy food? What prevents them from trying spicy dishes?
Mexicans acculturate their small children to spicy food gradually, by mixing increasing amounts of chilies into the meal. It takes a while before the kids enjoy it and at first they don’t like it. If this has never been done to you, you need to make the leap yourself, usually later in life. The whole point of spicy food is that at first it is painful, causing the release of endorphins to the brain. With time the pain goes away and you still get the endorphins, although you may seek out an increasingly strong dose to boost the endorphin response.
Not all Americans think this is a good deal. Older people are less likely to make this initial investment and endure the initial pain. The same is true for uneducated people (adjusting for ethnicity), who both are less likely to know it will end up being a source of pleasure and who on average have higher discount rates. What other predictions can be made? If you and your country are too obsessed with dairy you will be led away from spicy food, one way or the other. Milk usually counteracts the pleasing effects of chilies.
Originally posted on Marginal Revolution.
There’s a bit of confusion here between “spicy” and “hot”. Even leaving out the heat, many won’t try or like strange flavors or textures. The human animal, like most omnivores, is a blend of neophile and neophobe when it comes to food, as Michael Pollan points out in the “Gathering” section of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.