Some food contains capsaicin which is a substance that comes from chili or pepper and gives food its burning taste. In english you call this type of taste "hot". In German (my native language) we say "scharf" which literally is "sharp" in english (sharp like a knife).

I am suffering form a capsaicin intolerance. To me even low amounts of chili or pepper make my mouth feel like burning in hellfire. Sweat flows out of every pore of my skin even when I taste food that contains very small amounts of this substance that others won't notice.

So in a restaurant I want to order food that contains no capsaicin. In German I can say "Bitte nicht scharf!" But in english this is "Please not hot!"

Last year I spent 2 month in London and very often I got food that was cold and tasted like burning fire (they gave me the normal spiced food but didn't heat it). To make clear what I want I can say in German "Bitte nicht scharf, aber heiß!". How do you say that in english? "Please not hot, but hot!"?


This question is different form How to say that food is hot (temperature) without the listener thinking that I mean "spicy"? because the answers to the other Question doesn't help me to order food that contains no capsaicin.

The other question hat its focus on the aspect of temperature in the word "hot". This is not my focus. My focus is the amount of capsaicin in the food that is expressed by talking about "hot food", and how to avoid getting served such food.


Obviously I didn't make it clear enough: I love spicy food. I love mustard, horseradish, onions, garlic, wasabi, ginger and so on. I hate food that tastes boring and bland. And I hate cold food that usually is served warm. I just want no capsaicin in my food. Capsaicin is in Chili, Cayenne pepper, Piri piri, Tabasco pepper, Jalapeño and many other fruits from plants of the genus "Capsicum". Also Hungarian paprica (used for Goulash) and Peperoncini (you often find them on pizzas) contain capsaicin, not really much, but too much for me.

There is no capsaicin in horseradish, wasabi, onions, garlic, and most other spices. I have no problem with those spices. I like to eat food that is spiced with them.

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    You should say "please, not spicy". Or (if you want to permit them to put other spices in, just not capsaicin), you can say "please, no hot pepper". Jul 6, 2014 at 9:55
  • Oh I see. In English language chili is a kind of pepper (which is also botanically correct). In German language we distinguish between "Chili" (burning like hell), "Pfeffer" (spicy, only a little bit hot) and "Paprika" (not hot at all). You can call all of then "pepper" in english. Jul 6, 2014 at 10:14
  • "I want it served warmed up, but the food needs to be very bland. I cannot tolerate spicy food."
    – J.R.
    Jul 6, 2014 at 23:39
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    @J.R. I don't like bland food that tastes boring. I like wasabi and mustard and many other spices. I love spicy food. What I can't tolerate is capsaicin. Its really easy: Spread it on the inner side of your forearm (or any other part of your skin). If it starts feeling hot there, then there is capsaicin in it. If not then not. Jul 8, 2014 at 5:54
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    I agree - it's not a duplicate, the author has edited to clarify his point, the question should be reopened; perhaps the 'duplicate' could be a linked question.
    – Frank
    Jul 8, 2014 at 7:02

1 Answer 1


The things that have capsaicin in them are more correctly called chillies (capsicums).

In English 'spicy/hot' doesn't always mean 'with chillies' as many people find even weak "French" mustard to be 'spicy/hot'.

Bell peppers (which are really capsicums) do not produce capsaicin and I doubt that many English people would confuse Bell peppers with chillies (even though they really are chillies).

Normal peppers (which are pipers) do not produce capsaicin.

Mustard can be considered 'spicy' in England but standard English mustard is not spicy due to the addition of chillies, it is the mustard seeds themselves, they are Brassicas and do not contain capsaicin.

Most spices are really just flavourings and do not contain capsaicin.

Asking for no chilli should still allow you to have a flavourful dish without the pain but some people may mistake no chilli for no spices but at least your food will be warmer than the ambient temperature and not contain chilli rather than at, or cooler than, the ambient temperature and not contain chilli.

Tip : Should you eat something containing chillis a good way to help remove the hotness from your mouth is to chew on a spoonful of plain boiled rice or half a slice of bread. This absorbs the capsaicin; drinking water or beer, as you are no doubt aware, spreads it around the mouth and makes it feel worse.

  • The adjective "spicy" is generally used for spices that give food a piquant taste: black peppers, Szechuan peppers, capsaicin, ginger, garlic, mustard, horseradish, wasabi. Jul 6, 2014 at 13:37
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    The Mexican Spanish adjective picante refers precisely to capsaicin level; it comes from the verb picar, 'to sting'; it works fine in English, provided you pronounce it with three syllables, stressed on the second. Everybody understands "That's very picante" or "not so picante, really". Jul 6, 2014 at 14:39
  • @JohnLawler Perhaps not everybody. I know what "picante sauce" is, but never until just now connected it with "hot sauce". And if you said to me "That's not so picante", I'd be likely to respond simply that of course it isn't, it's not "picante sauce" Jul 6, 2014 at 14:59
  • @PeterShor If the author is correct and he has a low tolerance for capsaicin then it is only capsicums (excluding bell peppers which are the only capsicum not to produce capsaicin) that will cause him trouble. None of the other plants you mention produce capsaicin, although they can make food 'spicy', and should be OK for the author. It's not 'spicy' he needs to avoid, it's specifically chillies (and a fungus and a spider but I can't remember which ones and I doubt he'd be ordering fungi spores and arachnid venom on rye in the UK).
    – Frank
    Jul 6, 2014 at 18:33
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    @HubertSchölnast Waiters certainly should know (or be able to find out) what's in food, precisely because of potentially-fatal allergic reactions. It should be sufficient to say "I'm allergic to chilli, but other spices are OK."
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 8, 2014 at 7:27

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