You’ve heard of the “eat-to-sweat” hypothesis — eating spicy food makes us cool down during hot weather. But is it true? According to researchers from Cornell, that is not likely the reason countries with hotter climates use more spices. The more probable reasons: spices kill food-borne bacteria that grow faster and better in warmer areas, they are thought to contribute to one’s physical well-being, and they simply make foods taste good.
In North Africa, harissa is a fiery, red chili paste that is a kitchen staple. This is a very easy recipe. —Loulies
Toast caraway, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan, pound the seeds in a mortar and pestle, puree in a food processor with chilies (deseeded), charred and peeled red bell pepper, peeled garlic, cilantro leaves, a good squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil and salt. You will end up with a spicy, thick paste. Pack it into a glass jar, cover with a layer olive oil and refrigerate. It will keep for about a month and can be used as a marinade for meat (rub it on flank steak or kebabs), as a condiment with couscous, or spread on pita with hummus for a quick appetizer.