Those looking for a break from the cold winter weather can look to the eighth annual Fiery Foods Weekend.
Mary Martineau, director of marketing for the North Market, said the festival has typically been a one-day event, but because of popularity, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday this year. The festival opens at 10 a.m. on both days and admission is free.
With this year’s added day, Martineau said more events have been added to the schedule. New events include a guacamole-making contest as well as several eating contests.
A total of four eating contests will take place over the course of the weekend, according to North Market’s website.
A fiery cornbread-eating contest is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by a jalapeno-eating contest at 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s contests will include a hot ice cream sundae-eating contest at 2:30 p.m., as well as a hot wing-eating competition at 3:30 p.m.
Those wishing to compete in the contests can register at the North Market the day of the event.
Cooking contests include a professional and amateur chili competition, amateur hot sauce competition and an amateur salsa-making contest.
Those who want to taste the entries in the chili competition can pay $5 for a ticket, Martineau said.
The North Market is providing more opportunities to sample spicy foods by offering a $12 brunch on Sunday morning. The spicy brunch will be set up as a buffet in the upper level of the North Market, and will run from 10-11:30 a.m., according to North Market’s website.
Sue Hard of CaJohn’s Fiery Foods, located in both the North Market and in Westerville, said a food’s spiciness level is ranked using a method called the Scoville Scale.
“Wilbur Scoville started the test,” she said. “The units are based on a sugar water mixture and the rating is based on how many teaspoons of the mixture it would take to offset any detectable heat.”
One of the chilis CaJohn’s Fiery Foods uses in its products is called the ghost chili. It has a Scoville rating of more than 1 million, which means it would take more than 1 million teaspoons of sugar water to counteract the spiciness of the chili.
In comparison, the average jalapeño pepper has a rating of 2,000, Hard said.
High levels of spiciness can also be found at Ohio State’s dining facilities.
Chef Mark Newton of Campus Dining Services said there is now a flavor station at the North Commons dining facility that allows students to give their dish an extra kick. The flavor station has nine spices and four spicy sauces that patrons can use.
But not every one likes spicy food.
“We have wing night and several other spicy dishes, but we can’t make them classically spicy because it would annihilate 90 percent of our guests,” Newton said.
The flavor station is in a test run this quarter. There are plans to roll the flavor station out to other campus dining locations if it goes well, Newton said.