Not hot enough

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.

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3 comments

  1. Andrew

    Try combining a normally spicy meal with ginger tea. Ginger can greatly enhance spiciness, particularly in Thai food. My biggest culinary mistake was pairing an exceptionally strong ginger tea with green curry at a work lunch!

  2. Onne

    I’ve recently had an experience with alcohol that I was reminded of from this post. It was more of a “how do you let go and enjoy without letting things go too far” kind of experience. Enjoying the thrill of the moment and letting the experience draw you out of logic and into free flowing feeling without getting caught in the undertow of reality and getting dragged out to sea.

    Two sides of the same dilemma, where is the balance? How do you find the perfect balance? In the past my response would be, slowly push the envelope until you find the right spot, but recently it’s been more like, go crazy until your toe is over the line then inch backwards and apologize lightheartedly. Either way works depending on your personality type, but both require observation and drive. Sounds like you need a little push, (either that or a wingman) my friend.

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