It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli (sic)
Author: Marc Fennell
I’d recommend It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli (sic) for fans of podcasts, particularly anything educational. The author Marc Fennell serves as a host type figure, dropping in and out as the listeners are introduced to various key figures in the world of hot peppers. There are even five chapters which break up like individual episodes to enjoy over just more than two hours.
The idea is pretty simple. Marc is investigating the question of who has really grown the world’s hottest pepper. The world record holder has been an Australian (like Marc) but it’s now an American. However, there’s also some controversy and online conspiracies that the American may have gotten the title through illicit means. Marc serves as both an outsider and an investigative reporter and attempts to figure out what’s really going on.
I really enjoyed the interview portions of this, which Fennell successfully edited down to easy, digestible nuggets. Fennell frequently inserts himself into the narrative, which typically I’m a not a huge fan of but his sense of humor and willingness to try the peppers in question made it an added element to the book. The ending wasn’t totally successful, opting for less of a resolution to the questions he set out to answer and more of a “the real treasure if the friends we made along the way” approach but with such a short run time I didn’t feel cheated by it either.