I don't know when it was that I decided I liked spicy food, but I suspect it had something to do with Buffalo wings. I have to say, a good Buffalo wing is hard to pass up.
Now, there's no recipe for Buffalo wings here, so don't get your hopes up. I know. I'm sorry. I did spot a pretty promising one in Bobby Flay's recent release, Throwdown: More Than 100 Recipes from Food Network's Ultimate Cooking Challenge, however. If you happen to be in the market for a Buffalo wings recipe.
My father has always liked hot food. Food so hot sweat trickles down your face, even in the dead of a Canadian winter. Like father like daughter, I gradually followed suit. I keep two hot sauces at minimum in my refrigerator at all times; pickled jalapeñoes and canned chipotles in adobo are staples of mine; and when I get it, my pizza is usually covered in chili flakes (and more hot peppers, of course.) I keep cayenne and hot paprika at the ready. I realize most of my obsessions are of the fickle variety -- I might be tempted by a celery root here or a fennel bulb there, a pile of raspberries in the summer or a couple blood oranges toward the holiday season -- but my love of all things lip-burning, tongue-tingling? I think it's getting serious.
Down the street from my first apartment is a terrific Vietnamese place. The owner, one of the sweetest men you'll ever meet, makes it his mission to know all of his diners. If I ever make it there again, I know he'll pop over to my table and say in his broken English, "Where've you been?" as he hands me my order, a bowl of rice vermicelli with chargrilled pork, stuffed to the brim with gently pickled vegetables and fresh mint. It's too much for one person to eat, really, but sometimes you might gobble it up gratefully anyway, stuffing yourself silly, and the fact that it costs $7 might make you do a happy dance and repeat the whole thing over the following week. On one day in particular, the man walked by my table and peered down at my bowl. "Wow," he said, "you like it spicy?" The bowl was bright orange from all of the sriracha I'd drizzled in.
ñoes from Florida and shot back that concoction like nobody's business.
But this weekend, when I tried my hand at replicating my favourite Vietnamese meal (epic fail)...something mysterious occurred.
I dove into my bowl, ravenous and excited, and...sweat. My tongue...on fire. It was so hot, I actually started crying. So hot, in fact, that whenever I went to breathe, my tongue instantly blew up in flames. It was an inferno of a bowl. My mind flipped back to that episode of Sex and the City when Miranda becomes paranoid that she'll die alone and be eaten by her cat. Except that I wondered if I in turn might die of too much hot sauce and disintegrate like a stabbed vampire from Buffy.
The thing nobody tells you is that if you keep a bottle of sriracha sauce in your refrigerator for five months, it will get hotter. And hotter. And hotter.
So it makes sense that when I told my father about this incident, he responded with, "Sounds about right. I had the hottest horseradish the other night..."
Old habits die hard. Something tells me that thoughts of burning alive aren't enough to keep me away from hot sauce...at least, not for long.