Postcard From Nagaland, Home Of The Hottest Chilis In The World

Portrait of a Kohima stallholder, one of many great pictures by Aaron Joel Santos

Although this blog is called Trampy and The Tramp's GLASGOW of Curry, from the very start in 2008, we've cast our net wider, thanks to a network of foreign curryspondents from all four corners of the globe. The ever-reliable Tikka Mabaws recently filed from a remote corner of Japan, while before that Makhni Knife took us to the heart of curry in Moscow and didn't even make a "red heat" joke.

So we're always impressed by other curry-related reportage from the wider world, and Mary Roach travelled to Nagaland in north-east India to report from a chili-eating competition that features Bhut Jolokias, bagpipes and a member of Parliament from Myanmar. Things start off innocently enough but soon the chilis assert their dominance over most of the contestants.  

The whole affair is beginning to seem like an anticlimax when I look up from my notes to see Pu Zozam headed my way. I have seen people stagger in movies, but never for real directly in my sightline. Zozam’s legs buckle as he tries to keep walking. He goes down onto one knee and collapses sideways onto the floor. He rolls onto his back, arms splayed and palms up. He’s making sounds that are hard to transcribe. Mostly vowels. After a minute he rolls back onto his side and raises his head to retch. A doctor prepares a hypodermic of dicyclomine.

Even better, one of the contestants is a woman from Liverpool. Even compared to the continuing legend of the Kismot Killer, this seems to be a cut above. You can read this whole story over at the Smithsonian Magazine website.