Meaty pizza, cheesy pizza, dessert pizza… I like them all but sometimes there is nothing that slots into my stomach and provides the same satisfaction as a really spicy pizza. When one of my pizzaiolos is spinning pizzas for me and asks me if I want extra chilli on my pizza pie, I find it hard to resist.
What makes spicy food and chillies so irresistible you may wonder, as I have done on multiple occasions.
It’s all about capsaicin, the chemical compound in peppers and chilli peppers that provides the heat. It is present in peppers spanning from the innocent green pepper to the flaming hot Carolina Reaper!
The capsaicin provides the sense of heat by sending pain signals to our brain. In response our brain releases endorphins to counter the pain as well as “feel-good” dopamine chemicals, which are responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure.
So next time you go down your local pizzeria and the waiter asks if you want extra chilli on your pizza, I recommend you give it try and you will also know what it is behind the simultaneous feeling of pain and pleasure!