Sunday, October 07, 2007

Chemical attack in London?

Good lord, old boy. Chemical warfare? An attack in Soho, London? Damn those bounders!

MSN news reported that London Fire Brigade's chemical response team was called out to attend to a possible chemical attack when it received reports that a strong smell was wafting from the restaurant in the heart of London's Soho district on Monday afternoon.

Security authorities sealed off several premises and closed roads. The Times of London described shoppers coughing and gagging as fire-fighters wearing special breathing masks sought the source of the foul smell. Heaven forbids, it was emanating from the Thai Cottage restaurant.

Fire-fighters smashed down the door of the restaurant and discovered ... good grief ... that the restaurant had left extra-hot bird's eye chillies (chilli padi saja lah, or cabai burung for Penangites, & cabai rawit for Indons) which had been left dry-frying.

The restaurant owner said they were being prepared as part of a batch of nam prik pao, a super-spicy Thai dip.

msn photo

Well, those British lovers of spicy food claiming there's no degree of hotness they can't tolerate may have to finally acknowledge this could be it, their fiery match, a fierce sauce that had brought about security road closures and evacuations after passers-by thought they were being exposed to a chemical-weapons attack. But we Malaysians would have inhaled same with relish ;-)

An embarrassed Thai Cottage owner Sue Wasboonma said: "The smoke didn't go up into the sky because of the rain and the heavy air. It's the hottest thing we make."

Now, she's a meteorologist as well ;-)

The London police spokesman said no arrests were made in the case (nor anyone shot seven times in the head like innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes – see Not guilty, we're British!).

He declared: "As far as I'm aware it's not a criminal offense to cook very strong chilli."

On 20 March 2005 I had posted Bio-Chemical Warfare I Love, where I started the post with a quotation by Daniel Pinkwater who said:

It doesn't matter who you are, or what you've done, or think you can do. There's a confrontation with destiny awaiting you. Somewhere, there is a chilli you cannot eat.

Yes, in that post you would discover horrors or heaven for your gastronomical preference. In fact the Thai bird’s eye or prik kinu is nothing, a mere sarp-sarp suoi tickling, on the scale of hot heaven or hell.

Until recently the Mexian Habanero was the world’s hottest chilli. Apparently its red variety is far hotter than the yellow type, but let kaytee assure you, and I have taken both varieties, that you can't tell the difference when your tongue has already been vapourised.

However, two years, as Daniel Pinkwater prophesized, the Indian State of Assam produced a chilli called Tezpur that whipped the Hanabero off from the top position

I wrote of the Habanero in my earlier post:
This baby has been rated the hottest chilli, with a Scoville scale of 580,000. And I can certainly testify to that claim, requiring several cold beers to mitigate my first exposure to the tongue scorcher. Best of all, it also possesses a marvellous fragrance.

Now it seems another claimant to the title of the ‘fieriest’ has asserted its status – the Indian
Tezpur from Assam which rates over 800,000 on the Scoville scale. The power of this Indian babe is just sheer staggering, especially after my experience with Habanero. I must try to lay my hands on a few of these plants.

Hmmm, could this be Moses' burning bush? Afterall, some biblical (alternative) historians claimed there was a link between India and Egypt, while of course everyone knows of that between Egypt and the Hebrews.

I also remarked about the origin of chilli:
Chillies originated in South America and were taken to Europe by the Spaniards in the 15th Century, and from there to the rest of the world by European traders. The conquistadors might have been murderous bastards but we have to thank them for giving the world this wonderful fruit.


  1. The "hottest" form of Chilli Capsicum frutescens - commonly known in Malay as Cili Padi or Prik ki nu in Thai.
    Originated in Central America, but it is most widely used for cooking in South East Asia.

    Nice to take a break from sparring about LLT :-) .

  2. haha interesting departure from explosions in putrajaya ! nice change of weather should do this more ofter !

  3. Ah, the Habanero - the hottest I have ever tasted. As you say, 'vapourized' my tongue.

    But must get the Tezpur just to stuff it down throat of a 'macho' I know !!