In different countries, what is generally considered "hot" for local residents dining on local cuisine?
I'm an American and have experienced this at a number of Thai, Korean, and Indian restaurants around the United States. When ordering, guests are given an option of spiciness between mild, medium, hot, or "Thai hot" (or "Korean hot" or "Indian hot"). The implication is that what an American person would consider to be spicy, a Thai person would consider to be medium or maybe even mild.
Now, I'm a lover of spicy food and order the "Thai hot" almost every time, but it makes me wonder: is this an accurate interpretation of the perception of spiciness for different countries around the world? Or are they just presenting guests with a 1 to 4 scale on spiciness that has nothing to do with the nationality?
I have a good feel for what is considered "hot" or "spicy" in American restaurants, and I'd liken it to the spiciness of a jalepeno pepper (about 5,000 to 8,000 Scoville). I would say "mild" is up to maybe 500 Scoville, and "medium" is somewhere in the middle. There are exceptions in different regions and restaurants, but I'd think that's pretty typical.
Measured in Scoville (or maybe some other unit), what is generally considered "hot" in Thailand, Korea, and India? I'm looking for an empirical measurement of spiciness rather than a comparison between nationalities (e.g., "hot in Thailand is #,### Scoville", not "Thai food is hotter than American food").
I have not experienced this with Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Caribbean, German, French, Scottish, or any other national/regional restaurant that I can think of. For me, it's unique to Thai, Korean, and Indian restaurants in the United States. Others may have had different experiences.