As one who loves his grub and will eat almost anything, I have never quite understood why so many people have a desire to set their mouths and stomachs ‘on fire’ by devouring dishes containing the hottest chilli peppers grown on this earth, but they do, as can be seen from this report on how contestants in a curry eating contest finished up in a Scottish hospital.
My experience of fiery food is somewhat limited on the grounds of .. “once bitten, (or should that be burned ?) twice shy”, and these days I restrict my chilli intake to adding a little sweet chilli sauce to my Chinese take-away and eating a mild chili con carne which I prepare myself.
A few years ago I was staying near a large US Air Force base in Suffolk, where most of the pubs in the area served ‘Tex-Mex’ food to meet the demand of the airmen and their families who where stationed there. A friend suggested that we give the food a try, which we did. We ordered several dishes and shared them between us. If we had known, we could have ordered just one, because they all tasted exactly the same, and the result was that we drank an awful lot of beer to try cool down our ‘scorched’ throats, but then, perhaps that’s what the pub’s landlord intended.
I must admit that, in the past, I have been foolishly tempted by friends to join them for an Indian meal, which was always a big mistake, as not only was I left with a burning tongue and tonsils, but also a searing sensation when I … Well, I won’t go into details … except to say that it’s almost impossible to sleep when you keep falling off the toilet seat all through the night.
I once knew an ex-colonel who had served in India as a young man and who would only eat the hottest curries, travelling miles to do so, along with a bloke who worked in the Gulf States for many years and craved, what he called, “gunpowder sandwiches” for his lunch: and it would seem that they would not be alone in this day and age, if our supermarkets are anything to go by; for they are packed with ready meals and sauces from Mexico, India, Thailand and other countries where the people are born with asbestos lined stomachs. Some of the dishes on sale even show how hot they rate by having little red chilli pepper symbols printed on the packages, and chilli (and other spices) seems to be an increasingly common ingredient in all sorts of familiar dishes.
In view of the fact that so many people in this country seem to want to destroy their tastebuds, I wonder how long it will be before we see the “Kismot Killer” curry brand from Edinburgh …
… flying off the shelves at Sainsbury’s ?