Archives for: April 2008, 01
As a child growing up in New York and eating often in restaurants, I was exposed to a surprisingly small variety of cuisines as, during that era, there was simply not yet the wide spectrum of immigrant cultures thriving in the restaurant trade, even in the Meltingest-Pot metropolis of 'em all.
It was therefore at the New York World's Fair (1964) that I tasted of many cuisines for the first time, my absolute favorite being Indian. As a towhead schoolgirl, I dug into curries and licked ghee from my finger "just like the child Krishna!" exclaimed our waiter, who'd earlier been sure my parents might want to take a look at the Children's Menu most customers' kids favored..."just in case".
By the late 1960's my favorite cuisine was Mexican, as it was plenty hot and beginning to be available here and there in New York. The spices didn't "agree with" my parents, but I busied myself conducting contests such as "Best Cuppa Chili in NYC", and salsa fresca was a favorite vehicle for the delivery of jalapeños. It would be but a short time before Chinese restaurants would veer blissfully Szechwanward from the ubiquitous and bland Cantonese, about which I was rather indifferent.
Dr. D'Adamo rates all peppers "avoid" for those of blood types A and AB which, it seems, everyone else in my family was. Hence, what a blessing to have been born at a time and place so ripe for the ethnic restaurant explosion! The latter put me in touch with genetic roots tinged with lands, attributes, and tendencies so different from those expressed by the rest of my family.
Today I sometimes unwittingly omit peppers for long or short periods, forgetting how terrific I feel when I eat them. While I admit to preferring my curries, chutneys and (tomato-free) salsa on the mild side, it's clear that I, as a B, can scratch a certain itch only with chilis. And it's not their TASTE; it's whatever's so -- how do I put it -- strengthening, invigorating, regularizing, normalizing -- about them. They realign the whole organism. Whereas, as a child, I sought out hot peppers because they tasted good to me, now as an...elder I enjoy the positive effect they have on my metabolism. They make me think "Wow! I needed that."
The herbals say cayenne stimulates gastric juices and "improves metabolism", and that chilis are loaded with vitamins C and, yes, B's. Earl Mindell writes, unwittingly I suppose of B's and O's, "A meal rich in cayenne will have a mildly stimulating effect on the body." He writes that hot peppers "can trim cholesterol and triglyceride levels". "Stimulant", "Tonic", writes another author. "Improves circulation" "Aids digestion"...
As for me personally, I'd go so far as to say that the omission of hot peppers from my diet over too long a time will lower my stress threshhold and lead to a sense of sluggishness. And maybe my exposure to, and enjoyment of, hot peppers as a child was something of a gift from God, keeping me hardy amongst the aliens.