In several Afghan provinces the fight to curb the growing of opium poppies seems to be a losing battle.
In 2011 a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime survey said opium poppy cultivation rose by 7% overall from the prior year. Opium poppy has been one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban especially since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Poppy cultivation is expected to grow partly because the opium poppy's prices are rising and because farmers are having a hard time deriving as much profit from alternative crops.
But one Afghan province is showing real progress in doing just that. The alternative crop is the world's most expensive spice, saffron.
If you are a coffee lover you might be tempted to pay for a cup of the most expensive coffee in the world. Indonesia's velvety tasting brew, Kopi Luwak, gives new meaning to rich coffee. It can cost up to $50 per cup.
"The supply is very limited in the world that makes the price is very expensive," Kopi Luwak brand managing director Henry Fernando said.
The reason the supply is limited has to do with how the beans are initially processed. Just a warning here, it isn't pretty.
Kopi means coffee in Indonesian and Luwak is a wild Asian palm civet, a fury creature that looks like a cross between a cat and a ferret. The civet climbs the coffee trees to find the best berries, eats them, digests the berries and eventually out comes the coffee beans in its stools. Farmers then pick up the civet droppings and take the beans to a processing plant. Something about the gastric juices in the civet's stomach gives Kopi Luwak its unique flavor.
Read Kopi Luwak: Indonesia's rich cup or 'crappuccino'? on iList
CNN staffers took on a double-dog dare to finish a dish made with bhut jolokia - a pepper so hot it's been weaponized. Sara Sidner, a Delhi-based correspondent, share her first-hand account.
I don't do eating stunts; it's just not my thing. I don't like watching people shovel huge amounts of doughnuts or pies or whatever else down their gullets to win a prize. It's part guilt - knowing there are hungry people in the world - and part disgust, because it makes me gag to watch.
Turns out I am a hypocrite. While in New York City, I did as some of the locals do and took a food challenge. It's called the "Phaal Curry Challenge," an idea thought up by Brick Lane Curry House in New York's East Village. Basically, the owners dare patrons to eat an entire bowl of their spiciest curry - Phaal Curry. It has a total of ten different types of chili and peppers in it.
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