Our first destination on the search for the hottest chili in the World was Mexico to investigate the famous habanero chili. Unfortunately things didn’t run as smooth as we expected. As soon as we arrived in Mexico City, the first outbreak of the swine flu pandemic was all over the news. This meant that we had to deal with closed tourist attractions as well as delayed flights and the constant appearance of masks in all the footage.
We took the given circumstances and relaxed for a couple of days in the famous surfing town of Puerto Escondido. In a local mescal bar we became friends with the owner Edson, who introduced us to the tradition of drinking mescal out of a very hot spicy chilli, called chile de aqua. After burning tongues and severe headaches in the morning we drove through the amazing hilly countryside of the Oaxaca State to meet with Pilar, a local chef at her cooking school: La Casa de los Soboroes.
We bought our ingredients at the local market and learned how to prepare salsas and the famous mole negro. Mole is as a very thick, homogeneous sauce with complex flavours. Traditionally, black mole has six different kinds of chili peppers, chilguacle negro, mulatto, pasilla, ancho, guajillo, and chilpotle and is very difficult to prepare.
Finally all the tourist destinations had reopened and we made our way to the Yucatan Peninsula, the main growing region of the habanero chili. For a long time the habanero chili had been classified as the hottest chili in the world, but has now been replaced by the Bhut Jolokia from India. Our main focus was to meet local farmers, to learn as much as possible about the cultivation and use of the habanero.
First we had to see the main tourist attractions, Tulum and Chichen Itza and to find out about the use of chili in mayan times. The sites were just overwhelming and the local farmers were more than friendly and inviting. We had the change to see the habanero in all of its maturing stages. From planting the seeds, to the mature fruits and finally the production of an original mayan habanero hot sauce.
Finally it was time to go back home after 3 incredible weeks, luckily not one of us caught the swine flu but our bags had mysteriously grown. We came home with
- 4 x lucho libre masks
- 3kg habaneros
- 1 small habanero plant packed and sealed in a water bottle
- 20 different hot sauces
- 1 donkey papier mache piñata (dolls for kids to be filled with candy)
- and 20 hours of amazing footage from our trip.
We thank everyone in Mexico for the amazing time and the help with our documentary.