Red hot chilli eater downs 50 peppers in barely a minute at contest in spice-loving Hunan, China

In central China’s spice-loving Hunan province, the annual chilli pepper festival began with a sizzling chilli-eating contest that was won by local man Tang Shuaihui who proved too hot to handle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 7:12pm

A contestant downed 50 chilli peppers in just over a minute to win a gold coin at an annual festival in Hunan, central China, devoted to the fiery fruit.

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Hunan native Tang Shuaihui took home a three-gram, 24-carat coin for winning the competition, put on by a theme park in the county of Ningxiang and now in its second year.

With doctors on hand just in case, 10 contestants each held plates heaped with 50 Tabasco chilli peppers, racing to be the first to finish them off.

Sat in a shallow pool filled with water and three tonnes of floating chillies, Tang cleared his plate in 68 seconds.

“He finished them at an amazing speed, barely after the emcee had finished speaking,” said Sun Minying, an employee at the theme park, called Tanhe Ancient City.

The Tabasco pepper has a rank of 30,000-50,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale that measures the piquancy of chillies, which puts it somewhere between a jalapeno and a habanero.

The peppers bobbing in the pool, however, were of a far weaker variety, partly to avoid irritating the contestants’ skin.

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Smiling contestants wearing shorts and T-shirts – some armed with small bottles of water – waded into the vast pool of bright red peppers before attempting to clear their plates. One man floated on his back in the pool, chomping happily away.

Hunan cuisine is marked by its spicy peppers and richly coloured dishes, and is considered among China’s eight great food traditions, along with Sichuanese, Cantonese and other regional cuisines.

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The festival lasts until the end of August, with a chilli-eating contest held daily.