I always ate in peculiar ways.
Onion pieces in the Austrian version of meat loaf? Had to pick them out.
Not the best of preconditions for getting to love the chile peppers and trying out different foods in various places.
Yet, that’s exactly where I went.
Out of an academic fascination with the connections between plants and human culture developed a little side-gig growing chile peppers.
Out of that grew a decades-long practical interest in chile pepper varieties, a deep dive into the world of hot spices, strong flavors, and their historic, cultural, and – of course – culinary importance.
That all also led to a few years in Hunan, China, famously known for the fiery character and the chile pepper consumption of its inhabitants.
Here I am, Gerald Zhang-Schmidt, cultural anthropologist, ecologist – and the ChiliCultist.
After all, Know Thy Chilli.