Curry & Water

I’ve heard that if you drink water after eating curry it actually makes the burning slightly worse than if you didn’t drink water. Is this true?

It will be true in a sense…

If you only have a bit of curry on one part of your mouth (say the tip of your tongue), then the water will carry and deposit the “hot” all over your mouth.

If you’ve just wolfed down a huge spoonful and have curry everywhere in your mouth, the water can’t really do much damage in the way of redistribution since your mouth is already hot all over (well, the parts that can feel the burning anyways).

I’ve heard not to drink water when your mouth starts to burn before too, but I think this is advice for people new to eating hot stuff who may just take a little bite and hold it in one spot to taste it rather than chewing enthusistically, squishing it up, and spreading it all over the place to begin with. I tend to do the later, and find that drinking water does help as it washes some away, and cold water deadens the taste for a short time.

IIRC, the substance that produces the heat in chilli peppers is an oil. It isn’t soluble in water. That’s why drinking cold water has so little effect in relieving the “pain” in the mouth. Judging from the effect of chilli on other parts of the body (ever rubbed your eyes after chopping little peppers?), the stuff actually gets absorbed by the membrane, as well. Brilliant!

Eating something solid without the chilli (eg some plain rice) should help wimps who can’t handle it. Real men, on the other hand, may like to try this…

Yep, plain rice, yoghurt, milk or some buttered bread will help carry away the chili oil.

Cecil Adams on Why water won’t help after eating spicy hot food