Peppers in Mexican Cuisine: How Spicy Do You Like It?

El Mariachi in Parkersburg, WV, Has Dishes with Mild to Hot Peppers

When it comes to the use of peppers in Mexican cuisine, how spicy do you like it? For many people, the mere mention of authentic Mexican cuisine brings up thoughts of spicy heat, but this is not necessarily true. Dishes can run anywhere between “not spicy” to “four-alarm fire.” But no matter your preferred “spicy” level, Mexican cuisine has a long history of incorporating flavorful peppers of all types.

Here at El Mariachi in Parkersburg, WV, we are no different. Peppers are an important part of our authentic, tasty menu, helping to make our food absolutely delicious and memorable. This month, let’s take a look at the wonderfully, spicy pepper and its long history in authentic Mexican cuisine.

How Spicy is That Pepper? The Scoville Scale Will Tell You

When it comes to peppers, the first question is always, “How hot is too hot for you?” Some people prefer to keep their pepper consumption on the mild side, simply enjoying the flavor. Some sit in the middle of the spectrum, enjoying a little “tingle” or “bite” with every taste. Then there are some people, however, who live for the fire, whose pepper preference is basically “face-scorching.”

Believe it or not, measuring the heat range of peppers is more academic than you’d think. The Scoville scale measures the spiciness of peppers, based on Scoville Heat Units. These units calculate the concentration of capsaicin in each type of pepper. Capsaicin is a chemical that causes a burning sensation in any tissue it contacts. Simply put, if the concentration of capsaicin is higher, the pepper will be hotter. The Scoville scale, created by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, assigns Scoville Heat Units (or SHUs) to measure each type of pepper’s capsaicin level.

The Scoville scale runs the gamut from zero SHUs to 16,000,000 SHUs, the total score for pure capsaicin. For example, police-grade pepper spray measures at 5,300,000 SHUs. At one end, Bell peppers have a Scoville score of zero SHUs. Toward the other, fiery end of the scale, the Carolina Reaper pepper has a score of 1,500,000 to 2,200,000 SHUs. Other notables on the scale include jalapenos (2,500 to 8,000 SHUs), cayenne pepper and tabasco (both at 30,000 to 50,000 SHUs), habaneros (more than 250,000 SHUs), and ghost peppers (1,041,427 SHUs). Check out to find the Scoville score for more of your favorite peppers.

The Scoville scale has also become a challenge to pepper farmers everywhere, who are constantly trying to breed and grow the new “hottest pepper in the world.” So then, the true answer to “how spicy is that pepper?” really is “how spicy do you want it?”

The History of Peppers in Mexican Cuisine

Peppers have played a huge role in authentic Mexican cuisine ever since its inception. According to an article published on, the use of peppers extends back to the Aztec and Mayan cultures. They were even used for medicine and to fumigate homes, as well as adding a flavorful kick to their food. Archaeologists can trace the domestication of chili peppers back to 5,000 BC in Mexico’s Tehuacán Valley. History also shows evidence of peppers in a form of salsas as far back as 400 BC.

Over the centuries, peppers became one of the most vital ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Their delicious flavors and heat add much to the delightful complexities of Mexican dishes. Science has also proved that peppers cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that creates pleasurable feelings. Basically, eating spicy Mexican cuisine, especially at an authentic Mexican restaurant like El Mariachi, can be a pleasant, flavorful, and memorable experience. When was the last time you could say that about a cheeseburger or a chicken sandwich? Trust us; it’s science! And after trying one of our wide variety of great Mexican dishes, you’ll also trust your taste buds.

Spicy or Not-So-Spicy, El Mariachi Has Menu Choices for Everyone

At El Mariachi, our authentic Mexican cuisine brings the heat! Whether you like a “tingle” on your tongue or you love to climb the heights of the Scoville scale, our Mexican restaurant offers delectable dishes to keep you coming back again and again. Not a fan of spicy Mexican food? Not a problem at El Mariachi. We have options for you, too. Our menu has suitable dishes for every friend or member of your family.

Whether you like it spicy or not so much, are you ready for delicious Mexican cuisine from an authentic Mexican restaurant? Try out our wide selection and find your favorites. We also offer 14 flavors of margaritas. We pride ourselves on offering the best authentic Mexican cuisine in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Call us today to make a reservation, or order online for take-out!

To add to the authentic experience, El Mariachi offers traditional entertainment from a live mariachi band every third Monday of the month. Join us this month, and check out our blog next month for a brief history of mariachi music.

Make sure to check out our catering options, too, for any personal or business event in Parkersburg, WV, or throughout the Mid-Ohio-Valley. Nothing spices a party like authentic Mexican cuisine from our Mexican restaurant. We also offer fundraising opportunities for groups and organizations. When you want tasty Mexican food in an authentic atmosphere, choose El Mariachi.

Whether you like mild Mexican cuisine or you like to get spicy, El Mariachi in Parkersburg, WV, has what you want. Call us today at (304) 420-9005. Remember to like us on Facebook! How spicy do you like it? Let us know your favorite peppers in Mexican cuisine on your next visit—see you soon!