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Thread: Will Humans enjoy eating chili and other spicy foods with no society influence?

  1. #1 Will Humans enjoy eating chili and other spicy foods with no society influence? 
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    I understand that Humans are the only few (or the only) mammals that enjoy eating chili peppers and other spicy foods.

    Is it due to social influence?

    Or does the human brain just have a very unique way of interpreting 'spicy'?

    Without society's influence, will humans eat spicy foods?

    Are there other mammals that eat spicy foods?

    Is 'loving spicy foods' just purely a social impact?


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    Taste bud density which is mostly a combination of genetics, age, and life style (smokers vs non smokers) have a lot to do with it as well.

    I'm not sure society's influence is a simple as yes or no. Our societies of the past ten thousand years have changed some humans genetically in such things as lactose tolerance, and the gut biota, it might well have had an effect on other food choices.


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    I heard spicy food was mostly used in some cultures to hide the taste of spoiled meat?

    But seasoning food may not be just for humans!

    Salt isn’t a spice, but I recall years ago watching a David Attenborough documentary about monkeys, on a beach, dipping potatoes into the salty sea then biting them. Perhaps to add flavour or simply mimicking local human behaviour, it wasn’t known.
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  5. #4  
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    (One factor worth considering is that most humans eat chili peppers as a part of a recipe, while few animals in the wild such as lions, will cook up their food in a pot and add various spices to the mix.)
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    We are more complex beings than other animals, we have different digestive system and that's why we find pleasure in different tastes. When it comes to why we like certain food, I believe it's because of the next reasons:

    1. Culture/Society For instance, if you are born in country where the food on larger scale are chili and spicy , the bigger chance are that you'll find yourself liking that type of food..

    2. Genetics , people experience bitter flavors differently, because the receptor genes varies for each person.

    3. I have read somewhere ( can't find link at the moment, but if you insist I can google it ) that it depends on what food your mother used to ate and like during her pregnancy.
    Last edited by HB3l1; April 2nd, 2014 at 01:46 PM.
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  7. #6  
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    Thanks for the replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Taste bud density which is mostly a combination of genetics, age, and life style (smokers vs non smokers) have a lot to do with it as well.
    True... but lifestyle (e.g. smoking) is part of social influence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I'm not sure society's influence is a simple as yes or no. Our societies of the past ten thousand years have changed some humans genetically in such things as lactose tolerance, and the gut biota, it might well have had an effect on other food choices.
    I'm referring to how humans, compared to other animals, find pleasure in eating chili, not exactly about how our gut can handle it. (or are they related?)

    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    (One factor worth considering is that most humans eat chili peppers as a part of a recipe, while few animals in the wild such as lions, will cook up their food in a pot and add various spices to the mix.)
    If i give an mammal (e.g. a made recipe of spicy curry) wouldn't the mammal get away from it?
    I understand chili and spiciness have no effect on birds, that is why chili sauce is added to bird food to keep squirrels and other rodents away from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by HB3l1 View Post
    2. Genetics , people experience bitter flavors differently, because the receptor genes varies for each person.
    Spiciness is not a taste, and not work the same way as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and unami.
    Actually, spiciness is pain. Some forums discuss if "eating chili = human masochism".

    If a mammal does something, and feels pain, it probably won't try to do it again.
    Without social influence, would humans react the same way with chili?
    How about introducing some chili peppers to tribal societies living in places without chili trees or spicy fruits?

    Quote Originally Posted by HB3l1 View Post
    3. I have read somewhere ( can't find link at the moment, but if you insist I can google it ) that it depends on what food your mother used to ate and like during her pregnancy.
    Please do.
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    good question. never thought about before. thanks for starting topic. i can not contribute but looking forward to discussion.
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    My answer is yes.
    I like spicy hot food and I have no sense of taste or culture.
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    Eating spicy foods developed independently in the Old World and the New World. The Europeans called chili "pepper" although it was a bit more potent than the pepper they were used to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    I understand that Humans are the only few (or the only) mammals that enjoy eating chili peppers and other spicy foods. Is it due to social influence?
    More survival. Many spices have a preservative effect on food. As with alcohol (in western cultures) or tea (in eastern cultures) - the ability to tolerate preserved food is a survival trait, and is thus selected for by evolution.
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    I guess it’s worth pointing out, If you were lost in the wild and hungry, would you rather pick apples or chillies? Because, much like any other mammal, humans don’t eat chillies on their own (Being macho aside!).

    I’d be curious why one of our ancestors decided eating chilli was a good thing though. Maybe, like many other dishes, it all began unintentionally, by some would-be assassin, or prankster mixing up the chillies into someone’s pot to try poison, hurt or kill them. But, hey presto, curry was born!
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    I guess it’s worth pointing out, If you were lost in the wild and hungry, would you rather pick apples or chillies? Because, much like any other mammal, humans don’t eat chillies on their own (Being macho aside!).

    I’d be curious why one of our ancestors decided eating chilli was a good thing though.
    If it's a choice between starvation and spicy?
    It might well be the same evolutionary process that resulted in spice foods--an arms race (using a metaphor) between organisms trying to avert starvation and the plants evolving increasingly harsh defenses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    I guess it’s worth pointing out, If you were lost in the wild and hungry, would you rather pick apples or chillies? Because, much like any other mammal, humans don’t eat chillies on their own (Being macho aside!).

    I’d be curious why one of our ancestors decided eating chilli was a good thing though.
    If it's a choice between starvation and spicy?
    It might well be the same evolutionary process that resulted in spice foods--an arms race (using a metaphor) between organisms trying to avert starvation and the plants evolving increasingly harsh defenses.
    Certainly gives food for thought (No cringe worthy pun intended!)
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    Originally Posted by HB3l12. Genetics , people experience bitter flavors differently, because the receptor genes varies for each person.



    Spiciness is not a taste, and not work the same way as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and unami.
    Actually, spiciness is pain. Some forums discuss if "eating chili = human masochism".

    If a mammal does something, and feels pain, it probably won't try to do it again.
    Without social influence, would humans react the same way with chili?
    How about introducing some chili peppers to tribal societies living in places without chili trees or spicy fruits?
    I think you quoted the wrong sentence? But nevertheless, some people enjoy the taste of spicy food, I am not quite sure whether it has something to do with masochism, but I would simplify it and tell that they just like the taste also spicy food is known as aperitif ( it boost your apetit , besides this spicy food have also many other benefits )

    And here is the link you were looking for, http://www.thekitchn.com/5-reasons-why-we-love-some-foo-145555
    Last edited by HB3l1; April 3rd, 2014 at 12:49 PM.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    I’d be curious why one of our ancestors decided eating chilli was a good thing though. Maybe, like many other dishes, it all began unintentionally, by some would-be assassin, or prankster mixing up the chillies into someone’s pot to try poison, hurt or kill them. But, hey presto, curry was born!
    Many herbs and spices might have started out being used for their preservative and/or medicinal effects. However, once society evolved to the point where there was a surplus (for some people; which allowed cities and other aspects of civilization to develop) then no doubt people started to eat to enjoy the food rather than just eat to survive. At this point, variety and interest would become as important as nutritional or health value.
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  18. #17  
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    I'm not sure how trustworthy the information found in the following link is, but if it were, this article may be of interest to some.

    The Straight Dope: Are birds immune to hot pepper, enabling them to eat vast amounts and spread the seeds?
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    the ability to tolerate preserved food is a survival trait, and is thus selected for by evolution.
    Very nice observation. Spices and alcohol — and also sugar. I never heard of sugar or sugary candies "going bad".

    Uh-oh, these M&M's have turned, we need to throw them out.


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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    I understand that Humans are the only few (or the only) mammals that enjoy eating chili peppers and other spicy foods.

    Is it due to social influence?

    Or does the human brain just have a very unique way of interpreting 'spicy'?

    Without society's influence, will humans eat spicy foods?

    Are there other mammals that eat spicy foods?

    Is 'loving spicy foods' just purely a social impact?
    I am sure to some extent culture plays a role, but I don't think it's mostly a cultural thing.

    Spicy food tends to be eaten in places with warmer climates. This could be for a variety reasons (such as maybe that is where spicy foods/spices have historically been cultivated/are indigenous to said areas), but the correlation may exist for other reasons as well: Spicy food stimulates sweating, thus cooling people, and also helps reduce high blood pressure (Why that is important in the context of warmer climates? No damn clue).

    Most of the time, however, people eat spicy foods because they enjoy the burning sensation, which is a type of benign masochism. *Warmer climates are known to intensify affect reactions. If you enjoy the burning sensation of spicy food, and are in a warmer climate, you actually like spicy food even more than you would in a colder climate.

    So unless enjoying certain types of pain is culturally ingrained, I think liking spicy food does not necessarily have anything to do with culture.

    Edit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...57740813001174

    Here's an abstract to the article I got my information from. Although the connection may seem tenuous (and admittedly the study did, in my opinion, have a couple flaws) the testing for affect intensification due to brightness was through the mediation of perception of warmth, where the researchers did find that greater perceptions of warmth led to selecting spicier food in one of the experiments.
    Last edited by stander-j; April 5th, 2014 at 06:20 PM.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe View Post
    Very nice observation. Spices and alcohol — and also sugar. I never heard of sugar or sugary candies "going bad".
    More to the point in this case, honey does not go bad. (Natural preservatives.) It was quickly used to mix with other things to prevent _them_ from going bad, and since it is also a food in its own right, quickly became popular in early cultures.
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    Capsaicin is the "hot stuff" in the chilis, and is associated with stimulating endorphin release; Capsaicin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    I.E. Consuming spicy foods triggers the release of a reward path neurotransmitter.
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    According to #4 and #12, does it mean that chili in a different form, may attract mammals?

    Is #16 a hard-speculation, and are there other mammals who evolved this way?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    According to #4 and #12, does it mean that chili in a different form, may attract mammals?Is #16 a hard-speculation, and are there other mammals who evolved this way?
    I think it is possible the early chilis were not as hot as our cultivated varieties of them. We have been selectively breeding chili peppers for heat for centuries now and the hottest peppers come from India at this time which is a bit odd because the chili was taken from South America to India by the Portuguese traders to start with...
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    According to #4 and #12, does it mean that chili in a different form, may attract mammals?Is #16 a hard-speculation, and are there other mammals who evolved this way?
    I think it is possible the early chilis were not as hot as our cultivated varieties of them. We have been selectively breeding chili peppers for heat for centuries now and the hottest peppers come from India at this time which is a bit odd because the chili was taken from South America to India by the Portuguese traders to start with...
    Today's hotter cultivars of Chilli peppers certainly are much spicier than their origin plants, but I'd say we have been selectively breeding Chilli peppers to be milder as well. The American Bird Pepper is the origin of Capsicum Annuum, and, if it's anything like the Texas Bird Pepper, would be much hotter than a lot of Capsicum Annuum cultivars such as Jalapenos. Granted, it would also still be on one of the lowest rungs when it comes to Scoville Rating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Today's hotter cultivars of Chilli peppers certainly are much spicier than their origin plants, but I'd say we have been selectively breeding Chilli peppers to be milder as well. The American Bird Pepper is the origin of Capsicum Annuum, and, if it's anything like the Texas Bird Pepper, would be much hotter than a lot of Capsicum Annuum cultivars such as Jalapenos. Granted, it would also still be on one of the lowest rungs when it comes to Scoville Rating.

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    We (humans) also have been selective about the mild cultivars. We grow sweet peppers and also the varieties used to make paprika. All of them are still peppers but are usually mild enough to eat raw.
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    A lot of food is just boring as well...I'd hate eating without a lot of spices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    We grow sweet peppers and also the varieties used to make paprika. All of them are still peppers but are usually mild enough to eat raw.
    i do not remeber what kind of peppers i grew 2 years ago in pots on porch. but they HOT !! so hot if you just touched one and then touched your eye it would burn badly for minutes. had to flush with water. i now know what police pepper spray must be like. i do not know how they would be cooked. i threw them away. seeds were purchased from home depot.
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