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As a young teenager, I used to eat pizzas full of jalapeños and Tabasco on them, and very much enjoyed the spicy taste. In my mid-to-late 20s, I started feeling really sick when I ate these, even though at that point, it was far more infrequent.

Now, in my post-35 age, I tried making a pizza at home with jalapeños (no Tabasco) on it for the first time in a long time, and the eating experience was indescribably good. As in, it turned the entire pizza into a completely different dish; from something rather bland into an explosion of taste in my mouth! This is what pizza is supposed to be like! Wow! I immediately told myself that I'm going to buy those little glass jars with jalapeño slices in them every time I make pizza from now on...

Of course, X hours later, the next day, I "paid" for this lovely eating experience in the bathroom. What a nightmare. The less details I give about this, the better. You can probably imagine the kind of pain. I became completely sick and felt horrible for the longest time, shaking and freezing, lasting days. Clearly, my body is no longer able to handle/process the jalapeños, which couldn't make me more sad.

I don't remember ever having any such problems whatsoever as a kid, or even until my (roughly) mid-20s. Possibly it's related to stress-induced internal stomach wounds or something.

Is there something -- anything -- that can be done in order to allow me to eat these wonderful jalapeño pizzas yet not suffer that kind of torture afterwards? As fantastic as the taste was, I simply cannot justify putting myself through it again, knowing what it results in afterwards.

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    ....welcome to post-35...
    – moscafj
    Aug 13, 2021 at 14:48
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    I have little to offer aside empathy. I now order my Mexian food "hot or mild?" with a very despondent "mild." Feels like a defeat every time. Finding good flavor is still possible...but I miss me some super spicy fer sher. :,(
    – zedmelon
    Aug 14, 2021 at 6:40
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    I would like to remind everybody who wants to answer or comment that we take our "no health-related advice" very strictly. First, please do not discuss the possibility for other causes for the reaction. Second, do not post any suggestions which are not culinary in nature (that is, how to cook or serve the jalapeños. It doesn't matter if other solutions exist, they are off topic and will have to be removed.
    – rumtscho
    Aug 15, 2021 at 13:06
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    @rumtscho: this is not a case of ‘what’s the healthiest way to prepare (x)’. This is a ‘you might have poisoned yourself’. Should we also delete every question about dealing with allergies? Getting chills and shakes from food is not normal
    – Joe
    Aug 15, 2021 at 13:39
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    @rumtscho: I kind of agree with Joe. Frankly if you want to fairly remove all health advice, you need to remove all mention of food poisoning as well, since OP didn't ask about it. Also, I don't see how "look for a substitute that doesn't elicit the same reaction" is not a culinary suggestion, but "it was probably food poisoning and the jalapeños might not have been to blame" is...? Unless the other answer isn't hidden because of the reputation difference? I don't know. Not my problem. Have a nice day!
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 15, 2021 at 14:24

6 Answers 6

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Well... First of all, no. As alluded to in a comment, as one gets older, one's digestive system tends to be less accepting of what one puts in it.

Nevertheless, "the dose makes the poison". You probably can't eat an inch-deep layer of jalapeños on your pizza anymore, but that doesn't mean you can't have an "explosion of taste".

For one thing: Pickled jalapeños aren't just spicy. They're also vinegary and salty. And if I had to pick out what about a jalapeño pizza makes for an "explosion of taste", I'd actually rank the vinegar above the spiciness. Now, brands of pickled jalapeños also vary quite widely in spiciness, and in vinegariness. So if you could find a brand that was quite vinegary, and not as spicy (relative to the vinegar), you'd likely regret things less the next day.

The other thing to consider is that when you eat the pizza you mostly taste the outside of the jalapeño; but your intestine is tasting the whole thing. Thick pieces of jalapeño, with a low surface-to-volume ratio, won't be much more taste-explodey than thin ones, but they will be more other-things-explodey. As an extreme example, if you swallowed a whole jalapeño without even chewing, it wouldn't taste that spicy... but you'd still pay as though it was. So consider mincing the jalapeños up. For that matter, consider sprinkling some of the jalapeño brine on the pizza after cooking.

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    You may also be able to retrain your system to some extent, if it's been a long time since you've had that kind of spicy food
    – Chris H
    Aug 13, 2021 at 15:34
  • I think your last paragraph is key here. Consider the difference between a whole or coarsely sliced garlic clove and a crushed one. I've never tried putting a jalapeño in a garlic press, but I might now.
    – Theodore
    Sep 21, 2021 at 20:40
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Your reaction sounds like it might be a medical problem of some sort. It doesn't match my personal experience of over-indulgence in hot peppers. I'd advise talking to your medical provider before experimenting further.

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No. there is no "trick."

We really don't know all the variables at work here and many of the solutions that could be proposed are not cooking or food handling techniques, per se.

People tolerate various foods individually and the vast majority of people are able to eat jalapenos (and other peppers) without adverse side effects at any age.

Many foods, when eaten in various quantities will produce adverse side effects in some people. Some people do develop seemingly new digestive sensitivities (or seem to lose them) as they age. The question becomes is it the "hotness" of the jalapenos that's bothering you or the "pepperness" that's doing it? Would hotter peppers make it worse? Or, would the same quantity of bell peppers be uncomfortable for you as well?

On the other hand, the reaction you experienced certainly could have been due to factors other than the jalapenos themselves. Food poisoning, contamination, allergies, etc. are legitimate possible causes of your "non-standard" reaction to ingesting jalapenos.

I can only suggest that you experiment with it and see if you can find your "happy place" in regard to "flavor explosions" on your pizza. With the information supplied, this is the only way to narrow down the cause and maybe find a "trick" to it that works for you.

Try eating smaller quantities of jalapenos and see if your personal side effects are lessened. If you're after "the burn" try eating lesser quantities of hotter peppers, or the converse, greater quantities of milder peppers and see if the outcome is more to your liking. Some people have told me that varieties of jalapenos that are pickled with carrots in the jar are less "reactive" than ones without. Try eating fresh jalapenos instead of the varieties that are cooked and pickled.

As Chris H. suggested, you might be able to "re-train" your digestive tract to tolerate the desired "taste explosions" by working up to it by eating increasing quantities or including jalapenos in your diet more frequently in contexts other than pizza.

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I don't know about the day after but eating yoghurt or crème fraîche or filmjölk calms down my stomach while eating.

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As an Indian who grew up on hot, spicy food, I used to make fun of co-workers in restaurants in US and ask for everything on hot level at ethnic speciality restaurants. I paid for this in some years, when my older body no longer had the ability to take the spice. Now even in India, i avoid spicy food like the Andhra-style cuisine. Long story short, i think as you get older the tolerance level goes down, as with many other functions in body. Lower your dose and it will still be spicy but manageable.

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as another old guy that likes hot and spicy stuff, here are a few things that i have found out:

  1. as you eat hot spicy food, the time it traverses your mouth is a lot less than the time it traverses your 'lower digestive system' and the mucus membranes are similar in some respects..

  2. hot spicy food is something that you build tolerance for. if you start slow, you can certainly acquire a pain free enjoyment of hot foods. or, you can just hit it hard and suffer a while and you will get there that way too.

  3. if you dont eat hot spicy stuff for a while your tolerance will fade and you will again get the stomach problems until you can get used to it again

bottom line is this is a tolerance issue like growing calluses for playing guitar

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