Welcome to my quotations about hot peppers, a.k.a. chili peppers. Some of these are from a story I read in the 1980s in school, but I didn’t put together this page until the day I put half a habanero into my salad — which numbed my throat but was a fun thing to try with friends. My favorite is the much less intense serrano pepper. Living in Arizona, it’s a good part of the country for opportunities to experience all sorts of hot and spicy delights. Enjoy the fiery quotes!
Hot? Those things? They are for children. For nursing children. And furias are for growing boys. They’ll wake you up all right, and put fire in your blood. But listen, my friend, I’m a hot-pepper man. And when I say hot-pepper man, I mean hot-pepper man. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise” [A little altered. Cordell Hoyle speaking.
For the true culinary thrill seeker, habaneros are the king of sting. ~“The Gardener’s Year: May,” Rodale’s Gardener to Gardener: Seed-Starting Primer & Almanac, Vicki Mattern, editor, 2001
They have hot peppers in Louisiana. Little red devils with fire in their skin and hell in their seeds. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”
This is the kind of plant that endears itself to a teenage boy. These weren’t vegetables, they were weapons! And it was legal to grow them. ~James Gorman, “A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies,” New York Times, 2010 [of habaneros, a.k.a. congo peppers
Ghost peppers are sneaky mothers. There is a fifteen- or twenty-second delay before the burn kicks in — that’s why they are called ghosts. ~Eddie Hernandez, “My Mex-American Kitchen: Cranking Up the Heat,” Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen, 2018
But they do not eat hot peppers in the United States. Here and there, yes. But hot peppers there are weak peppers here. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise” [Village of Feliz, Tabasco, México, “nine hundred miles from nowhere”
We don’t like spicy food. Once we found red fang-shaped fruit among the cargo of a shipwreck. We ate it and regretted it loud and long! ~Isuna Hasekura, Spice & Wolf, Vol. 1, 2006, translated by Paul Starr
There were green infernos and green terrors, yellow jackets and yellow furies, red torrids and red frenzies. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”
As of today, the hottest chile on record is the Carolina Reaper. I have grown it as well, and let me tell you, if you bite into one, you need to start praying before you start eating. They take your breath away. You will be on fire, sweating, with tears running down your face. ~Eddie Hernandez, “My Mex-American Kitchen: Cranking Up the Heat,” Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen, 2018
In New Mexico the green chile is more than a simple ingredient — it is a necessity… Everyone I’ve encountered in Albuquerque seems to have them in bulk stored in their freezer as if an impending green chile shortage is coming… I heard there is talk of reshooting all the episodes of Breaking Bad, but instead of meth Walter and Jesse sell green chiles. ~Jim Gaffigan, “Mexican Foodland,” Food: A Love Story, 2014
Habaneros are pure heat. They are a small, orange lantern-shaped chile that should be handled with respect, if not downright suspicion. ~Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, & Helene Siegel, Mesa Mexicana: Bold Flavors from the Border, Coastal Mexico, and Beyond, 1994
I was looking forward to some real Capsicums, fresh from the bush and oozing their pungent piperine. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise” [a little altered
You know you’re an Arizona native, when your lungs don’t deflate when you bite a jalapeño pepper. ~Cappy Kirby, quoted in You Know You’re an Arizona Native, When…, compiled by Don Dedera, 1993
We run crazy after things that are like the red peppers, — pretty outside, but hot as fire when we get to playing with them. Our lesson is right hard. But a punishment sin brings with it is remembered longer than a hundred warnings. God doesn’t push us towards hot peppers — He lets us alone, but we are mighty apt to run to Him after we’ve got a fair taste. ~Marion Harland (Mary Virginia Terhune), Alone, 1857 [a little altered
My lips stung and the lining of my mouth was hot with quick and then prickling stings. I had taken two red frenzies, and without sweat, without the hard blowing of the breath. Then a red torrid. My lips had hardened to the sting, but my mouth was ridging inside. Then the tingle was in my throat and deep down. Now a greenish yellow fury. I felt the sweat ooze out on the back of my neck, down under my collar. I was hurting, the numbing burn of piperine, a crystalline alkaloid that tightens the tissues like wet rawhide. Each minute got longer. Next, a green buster. The heat seared down to my belly. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise” [a little altered
Life isn’t like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a jar of jalapeños. What you do today might burn your butt tomorrow. ~Larry the Cable Guy, unverified
I was warm inside from the beer and peppers, and felt chipper for the first time in weeks… ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”
Tucson had opened my eyes to the world and given me… a taste for the sensory extravagance of red hot chiles and five-alarm sunsets. ~Barbara Kingsolver, “Called Home,” Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007
Chipotles, the dried and smoked version of ripened jalapeños, taste like bacon in a chile. ~Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, & Helene Siegel, Mesa Mexicana: Bold Flavors from the Border, Coastal Mexico, and Beyond, 1994 [a little altered
Hilario Villareal is the best pepper man in Feliz. He eats furias for breakfast. With beer. He grows his own peppers and has a secret. He wet-rots leaves for his plants and grows them on a south slope that is sheltered on three sides. And in the dry season he waters them from a bucket. I tell you to have respect for his peppers. His soil is very sour and his peppers are very hot. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise” [A little altered. Tio Felipe Ignacio de Fuestes speaking.
We got married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout… ~Billy Edd Wheeler & Jerry Leiber, “Jackson,” 1963 [This song is most famous for its performance by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash in 1967.
Peppers are an ancient food in the Americas, and the remains of wild peppers dating back to 7000 B.C. have been found in human coprolites — fossilized excrement — uncovered 150 miles south of Mexico City. ~Richard Schweid
Amomum melegueta! I had never seen a whole one before. The spice trade calls them Guinea peppers. Such little nuggets launched armadas in the old days, sails from Spain and Portugal. Men died for those peppers as for gold and glory. They are the hottest things that grow and their seeds are praised as the grains of paradise. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”
Hot Chili Pepper Quotations
Original post date: 2008 Feb 29
1st major revision: 2016 Jun 20
2nd major revision: 2019 Dec 6
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