The Science Of Spice

A Nepalese spice vendor waits for customers at Ason market in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. Ason is one of the busiest and oldest market in Katmandu. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese spice vendor waits for customers at Ason market in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. Ason is one of the busiest and oldest market in Katmandu. Niranjan Shrestha/AP
A Nepalese spice vendor waits for customers at Ason market in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. Ason is one of the busiest and oldest market in Katmandu. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese spice vendor waits for customers at Ason market in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. Ason is one of the busiest and oldest market in Katmandu. Niranjan Shrestha/AP

The Science Of Spice

From Mexico and Jamaica to Nigeria, Morocco, India and beyond — the world is full of culinary traditions on the spicy side.

WBEZ’s own Tony Sarabia grew up in a Mexican-American household, but his mom didn’t cook much with chilies. Today, he has a low tolerance for spicy-hot foods, and that made him wonder why some people tolerate burning spices while others do not.

Worldview asks two experts about the history and science of spice preferences. Louisa Chu is a Chicago Tribune food reporter and co-host of the podcast Chewing . Bob Holmes is a science writer and correspondent for New Scientist magazine. He’s also the author of the book Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense.