There are far hotter peppers around these days than the Tabasco. That may be why you’re not reading about them right now. Some chilli connoisseurs prefer a respectable slow burn with a delightful taste, to a pepper so savage that its taste is the last thing on your mind, the front of your mind fully occupied with the urgent questions: “is this normal?” and “what are the symptoms of a heart attack?”
The Hot Tabasco pepper kicks out a feisty 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units. That’s around 10 times hotter than a Chipotle or Jalepeño pepper and plenty enough for most people. The Tabasco pepper’s taste, if you’re not already familiar with it, is herby, spicy and smoky, with a sweet-acid fruitiness. Not to be confused with the tart twang of cheap vinegar, one of the main ingredients in most Tabasco sauces.
Tabasco peppers are best known as the essential magic ingredient that lends its kick to the über-famous namesake hot pepper sauce, churned out of Avery Island, Louisiana. Saviour of tasteless pizzas the world over. 720,000 bottles of Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce are trucked out of this otherwise obscure piece of marshland every day.
But forget all that. There’s more important stuff in the background of Tabasco, the phenomenally valued chilli. I for one believe that the place in which a food first came to be, infuses subtle qualities into that food, defined by its climate, geography, geology and vibe. Tabasco didn’t hail from a Louisiana factory amidst smoke and bogs.
The Tabasco chilli pepper was born in the state of Tabasco, South-East Mexico. It was originally cultivated in an area dense with Mayan temples, the wisdom of olde manifesting in mysterious mastery of the land, the local earth lush and humming with natural power. Call me a patchouli-snorting hippie but I think there’s something significant in that.
“Tabasco” is an old Indian word meaning “humid land”. Tabasco Nahuatl is a sadly extinct Veracruzana language. The tiny spicy trinket we speak of has cultural weight behind it.
Plus the Hot Tabasco Pepper looks the quintessential chilli – the perfectly enticing small, thin pepper, maturing to a blazing red, tapering to a keen point. Every bit the neat and potent little firebomb, calling to be chomped on like a Siren with firecrackers in her panties.
I feel that a child asked to draw a chilli, would draw a Tabasco. It’s in our psyche, I speculate.
The health benefits Tabascos impart to us bumbling humans are nothing to be sneezed at either. Tabasco peppers and other chillies stimulate the metabolism. They fight cancer. They help diabetics. They are vitamin-rich and contain immune-boosting antioxidants. They reduce cholesterol… click on the “Benefits of Peppers” header of our website for the comprehensive rundown of the amazing and reassuring things they can do for us mere mortals.