MAYAN LEGENDAbout the Jaguar Stone
Dark creatures that inhabited the Earth before the creation of man, exhausted by the everlasting darkness, sent their messenger to Numi, the black panther. Its eyes were the sole light in the darkness. It was asked to convince the Great Spirit to send light to Earth. However, Numi rejected, saying: ˶Darkness is crucial for the existence of the skies; without it, there would be no light. If the creatures of light would enter the world of darkness, dark creatures would vanish.˶ Eventually, it had indeed come to that, unleashing the battle between light and darkness. As the dark creatures could not be seen in the light of day, Numi asked the Earth to create a stone that would make it possible. This stone was reminiscent of jaguar fur, that is how it got the name ‘Jaguar Stone’. It is said that the Jaguar Stone is a bridge between the visible and the invisible world, and unveils what remains otherwise unknown to the one wearing it.
HABANEROInteresting information about this variety
CAN YOU SPICE UP YOUR HEALTH WITH CHILLI?
You can – with a sensible amount. Chilli is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and thoroughly cleanses cavities. It reduces cholesterol. The habanero peppers as such contain trace amounts of some tens of beneficial substances. It is said they can even work as an aphrodisiac... Men who seek spicy food have a higher testosterone level. Chilli boosts them with energy and the power of a jaguar.
If you like to act like someone who can take anything, remember that habanero peppers rank truly among the really hot ones. If you really go overboard, it is useful to have milk or yogurt at hand. Water namely repels the greasy chilli oil and does not reduce the problem, but merely relocates it to another part of the body. A test of power rapidly turns into gasping for air.
A certain US chemist called Scoville introduced the scale of pungency, according to which most ordinary habanero peppers reach a level of roughly two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand units. And that’s pure hell on one’s tongue. Just to illustrate – the vast majority of peppers (including those labelled as chilli) are somewhere between five hundred and fifteen thousand... Fifteen million is the maximum absolute value, displayed by pure, laboratory extracted capsaicin. This substance causes pungency in peppers, and has not been found anywhere else in nature. It significantly increases heat in the body and leads to ‘gourmet sweating’.
By the way, spicy food lovers are allegedly also called pyro gourmets.
VARIETIES AND GROWING
Unripe habanero peppers are green, otherwise they can be found in almost all colours of the nature. Orange and yellow peppers (ranking among the sharpest ones) are very typical for the Mexican state of Yucatán, but there are also red, white, brown, or pink varieties. The ‘Spirit of Chile’, the burning hell, is a crimson pepper, just like another record holder, Red Savina. By the way, if you decide to grow these varieties at home, you’ll hardly reach the pungency that these peppers hold in their home country, where the pods have ideal conditions and the growers inherit thousands years of experience.
Habaneros grow slowly, they prosper especially under strong morning sun and in slightly acidic soil. It is also popular to grow them as hydroponic plants. Certain seeds are so strong that the farmers only touch them wearing gloves – otherwise their hands would be covered in tiny blisters.
THE HISTORY OF CHILLI
Archaeological surveys have shown that people have been using chilli to diversify their food as early as 6,000 years ago. However, the first Europeans who came in contact with them were Columbus’ seafarers. They were the ones who discovered the Caribbean, which is where the dilemma appears – do habanero peppers come from Mexican mainland or Cuba? Some people interpret the name ‘habanero’ as ‘from Havana’. It is a fact that approximately twenty varieties of habanero peppers can be found across the whole area, and the locals consider it one of the symbols of their sovereignty. The ancient Maya used to consume habaneros with almost any meal, and considered the plant sacred. It was Columbus’ doctor who brought it to Europe. And chilli kept spreading – nowadays it is largely grown in both Africa and Asia.
Francísco Ximénez, a Dominican priest, wrote that habanero peppers were so hot that they would ‘make a bull unable to eat’. It was this priest who became a biographer of sorts for the ancient Maya. He collected and preserved the knowledge about this ancient culture.
The golden age of the Maya had ended several centuries prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Their culture was nearly as old as that of the Egyptians. At the time of the arrival of white Europeans, the Maya had already been disseminated and the region was dominated by other nations. The first smallpox epidemic had hit the Maya even before Columbus encountered the first Mayan canoe. And the history of further Spanish conquests is well known to all of us... If you ask a Mexican where all the Indians had gone, he or she will just laugh. ‘Where would they go? We’re them.’ They have just blended in with the newcomers.The International Hot and Spicy Food Day falls on 16 January.
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