Datil Pepper Power!
It’s really not fair how deceiving these peppers can be! Averaging 3.5 inches long with a yellow-orange hue, Datils look so small and cute yet pack a walloping 100,000 to 300,000 scoville units…that’s right up there with the hottest Habanero on the mouth burn scale. St. Augustine has the undisputed first origin claim for this pepper here in the United States.
Local legend has it that when Minorcans (inhabitants of an island off the coast of Spain) migrated to St. Augustine in 1777, they brought ashore their treasured Datil pepper seeds. Other historical accounts suggest they arrived from Peru or Chile in the late 1800′s. Regardless of historical accuracy, Datil peppers to this day feature prominently in local Minorcan recipes like homemade clam chowder and chicken pilau.
I bought my batch from Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe in St. Augustine. Located on 8 Granada Street between the Lightner Museum and Villa Zorayda, Hot Shot has a Wall of Flame plastered with photos of customers ranging from first tasters to record-breaking wanna-bes who have taken the challenge of eating as many Datil peppers as possible in 1 sitting.
I ate one without aid of liquid or food chaser and absolutely couldn’t conceal the fact that my mouth was on fire. For my second tasting, I garnished a scoop of Key Lime Pie ice cream with a chocolate covered Datil. Although the sweet lime and laser hot pepper made for an interesting flavor combination, my tongue…and later my stomach simply weren’t extinguished in the least.
Any suggestions out there for incorporating these into another dessert recipe? Hurry because even though I’m keeping these in the refrigerator, they won’t last long.
By Steve Mirsky, Gastrotraveling.com