Most of the time, I just want my food to have a little or a decent kick to it. Just enough to keep it interesting. This is the realm of the house hot sauce, or Cholula, or pickled jalapeños. The restaurant world is decently well equipped to satisfy this need.
However, on occasion, this is not enough. Sometimes I have a slightly masochistic desire to not just scratch my head, but also sweat and suck air and wave my hand uselessly in front of my lips. The need to eat the kind of meal that you have to gulp down five times faster than normal, and during which you must keep demanding refills of water, milk, yogurt, or just give me anything, damnit!
This is an itch that’s hard to scratch. The timing has to be right — if you’re out on a date, or having lunch with a client, or just trying to have any kind of conversation while you eat, then you must suspend your craving. Or if you’re in a hurry. Or if you don’t have a decent collection of rags and towels, or time for a shower. Or if you’re actually trying to savor the meal in question. If any of these things get in the way, you have to resignedly accept that perhaps this day is not the day to cry and wipe snot and wear an improvised tongue icepack.
But the problem is that, sometimes, none of those problems exist, and the stars are aligned and night is cool and … and the meal just does not deliver. This is an incredibly frustrating experience that we’ve all had. It’s the feeling you get when you’re using the “nuclear” sauce like spaghetti sauce or when your side of green beans is smaller than your chili achaar, yet a few bites in you’ve already adjusted to the heat. There’s no more challenge, no more rush, no more pain. You’ve wiped a little sweat of your brow and sniffed a bit, but the food is just … not … hot enough.
And although this is just a ridiculous drawn out metaphor, it actually is also true in a literal sense. So if you have any tips for me on how to get this type of fix — without the spiciness that requires hospitalization or that burns your lips for hours afterwards or that gives you stomach ulcers for days — then let me know.