Aldwych's Respiro del Diavolo - © 2018 Aldwych Café

Menu Madness: Hot Pepper Ice Cream?

It’s been a while since I explored the Menu Madness extreme of my coverage mandate. I mean, MM is more of a rant vehicle than a legitimate post category. But I just couldn’t resist bringing you the story of a Valentine’s Day special treat that – oh, the irony! – could kill you if you love it too much.

Respiro del Diavolo - © 2018 Aldwych CaféThere it is, nestled among the non-lethal Ice Cream flavours, in the servery of the
Aldwych Café
in Glasgow, Scotland. At least, the proprietors have studded
it with whole
Hot Peppers to warn would-be customers…

It’s billed as ‘the world’s most dangerous Ice Cream’. It’s a special, limited time creation of the Aldwych Café Ice Cream Parlour in Glasgow, Scotland. And it could, theoretically at least, kill you.

The official name of the confection is Respiro Del Diavolo (“Breath of the Devil”), and it’s choc-full of Carolina Reaper peppers, purpose bred by amateur gardener “Smokin” Ed Currie, proprietor of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina, to be the world’s hottest cultivar of the Capsicum family. It comes in at just under 1.6 million on the Scoville Hotness Scale, or about 600 times hotter than the strandard Jalapeño.

The Ice Cream, itself is a fiery orange-red, just screams ‘Danger!’ It’s so dangerous, in fact, that the proprietor requires you to be 80 or over and sign a waiver acknowledging that the stuff could harm or even kill you, before they’ll scoop you some.

Why do we need this?

The short answer is, we don’t need it. Nobody needs it. Except, maybe, the Aldwych Café, which obviously whipped up the stuff as a Valentines Day-themed stunt, hoping for just the kind of free publicity I and (probably) thousands of other publishing outlets are giving it.

But make no mistake: I’m not endorsing the stunt or the concept of the stunt. Far from it.

I have to ask myself, who in their right mind would make a menu item that could kill a customer stupid enough to try it? I ask, why didn’t the public health officials in Glasgow investigate and confiscate the stuff? It’s literally toxic. The answer to the first question is, things have gotten so desperate in the restaurant business that operators seem to think they have to do off-the-scale stunts to get noticed. And damn the condemnation from a few people like me. The answer to the second question is… I don’t know. Hot Pepper ‘challenges’ have been staged all over the UK and North America for a few years, now, and the authorities have never (to my knowledge) stepped in a called a halt to the ‘festivities’.

The resto proprietors who host these nutty stunts carefully protect themselves by making those who would participate sign waivers acknowledging the danger in which they are putting themselves. And the health officials would probably have to admit that Carolina Reapers – as dangerous as they are – are still ‘food’. No actual infraction under their rules.

Valentine’s a bad connection…

I wonder how  much the proprietors of the Aldwych Café thought about it before they chose to link their Hot Pepper Ice Cream ‘promotion’ to Valentine’s Day? Well, they could fall back on old maxims like, “You always hurt the one you love” and “Love hurts”… But could a scoop of Respiro del Diavolo legitimately be described as “a hunka-hunka burning Love”?

(Apologies to Elvis Presley. His memory really doesn’t deserve to be connected with this post. But I couldn’t help myself…)

~ Maggie J.