Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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spice standard

standardized degrees of spiciness
  [vote for,

medium at the Thai place is about right, but fast-food spicy isn't spicy at all, and the local Indian restaurants vary wildly depending on whether the chef is condescending to local palates or not. We need better definitions than "bold" or "flamin-hot", a widely-used spice scale.
djymm, Apr 14 2001

scovilles http://easyweb.easy...chile/scoville.html
empirical spiciness [djymm, Apr 14 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       I think this is a public safety issue, perhaps on a par with disposal of radioactive waste and removal of land mines. Poor Dog Ed is capiscin-challenged; it doesn't take much to make me weep over a plate of Kung Pao Chicken. Djymm, I want a probe I can stick in the sauce to measure spiciness on a plate-by-plate basis. I'm serious. I think maybe the staff at Mekala's (Thai) are trying to kill me.
Dog Ed, Apr 14 2001

       Problem is, not only do people not agree on how spicy a given dish is, they don't even agree on the relative spiciness of dishes. I have a friend with whom I ate thai food occasionally. There's one restaurant which seems normally-spicy to me, but is unusually spicy to her --- she has to order two or one stars there. At another place, she has to order their hottest dish to get a satisfactory level of spiciness, but I find their food only marginally blander than other places'.   

       My guess is that there are a handful of different oils and each person has a different response to each one. So, these two restaurants probably rely on different seasonings for their spiciness, and I and my friend react differently to these seasonings. To predict how spicy you will find a given dish, you would need to have a list of all the spicy oils in the dish and their concentrations (as well as any other chemicals which might modify their effect). You'd multiply these by your personal sensitivity to each oil, and then use that to estimate the overall perceived spiciness of the dish. Of course, this is a bit too complicated for diners to want to do every time they order, so I propose a technological solution. Everyone would carry a smart card, containing their measured, calibrated spice responses. The smart cards would be put into a slot in the side of the menu, which would then compute the spiciness of each dish, and using electronic-ink (or maybe just LEDs) would indicate the expected subjective spiciness of each dish.   

       As a bonus, these cards could also contain other eating preferences (food allergies, dietary restrictions (no meat for vegetarians, no pork for Jews, etc.), or just plain "I hate pineapple"), and cause the menu to display appropriate warning symbols.
wiml, Apr 17 2001


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