Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Liquid Christmas

We sat around well into our cups at the Christmas party, an odd assortment of attendees gracing the Irish with company for the Sunday holiday. The atmosphere was rather bohemian; while all of us were in some varying degree or other teachers, each of us had a unique penchant for otherness, whether it was volunteer work, art, math, music, acting, or writing.

I had worked hard to help prepare the food, the dinner, the finger foods, and the drinks that were going out throughout the evening, yet even so I hadn’t managed to get much to eat. This tended to happen when one got more wrapped up in service than the act of actually eating. Around nine I decided I really needed to have something to eat, to both help prevent alcohol poisoning and to assuage the general hunger.

The Volunteer had very nicely brought some homemade vegetarian chili for everyone. This seemed like the most workable idea. The only problem was the Volunteer had absolutely no tolerance for capsicum at all. Any pepper at all, black, white, and gods forbid red, would send her into spasms of pain. She just couldn't handle the stuff. I spooned some of the chili into a cup and immediately wanted it to taste more like chili. It wasn’t that the chili wasn’t good, it just lacked any kind of spice that I would associate with chili, and being Latino, there was no point in eating a chili that does not actually contain chili. The stuff was more like tomato soup with vegetables.

Fortunately for me I lived with the masochistic spice connoisseur, the One, who liked her chili not just hot, but mind blowing. The One’s favorite proclamation upon eating a dish that is “properly” spiced is “Oh, I can feel the wax in my ears melting.” Knowing about her addition for pepper that only those with steel stomachs would want to challenge to a dare, last Christmas I bought her a series of pepper sauces. These sauces were not just spicy. These sauces required me to sign a waiver to purchase extracting a promise that I would only ever use them as a food additive. The active ingredients brought the heat rating up to 600 times hotter than Tabasco, or registering in at 600,000 Scoville units for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.

So it seemed the most natural thing in the world to add a touch of one of these chili sauces to the currently underchili-ed chili. I picked the Mega-Death sauce, as it would be hotter than the Sudden Death and sure to make the chili have bite. I put a bit of cheese in as well and about half a teaspoon of Death Sauce. Mixed, heated, melted the cheese and began to consume.

“Sweet gods what have I done?” Was pretty much the only exclamation I could make as my face started to turn red and I swallowed my drink a little more.

“That’s hilarious. You know how hot those sauces are,” said the Volunteer.

“Yes, but…” I was barely able to choke out words around the atomic explosion that had engulfed my mouth, “I didn’t think it would be this bad.” I manage to gasp out, while adding more cheese and a bit more chili to try to calm this thing down. It was too late; however, as it had already gotten out of control.

One of the house guests brought by the Volunteer came in to join the conversation.

“What are you laughing at?” he asked the Volunteer.

“I just think it’s hysterical.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“I put some chili sauce in the chili to make it spicier,” I responded, while pounding the counter and gulping down some tequila.

“Here, have a spoonful,” I said, and passed him a bit to try.

Whether he tried it to be polite, out of curiosity, or out of inherent sense of masochism was unclear. He did; however, eat the spoonful.


“I know, right?” I asked as I continue to die trying to eat the chili.

“What is that?” I pulled out the bottle and showed him the heat rating. He read the description.

“600 time hotter than Tabasco.”

“Yes, the other one has Jersey Fury, but this one is made with Liquid Rage.”

“Liquid Rage. You gave someone with German heritage Liquid Rage. You really should have thought about this. There is no telling what I could now!”

We all started laughing.

“I may not be 100% German, but I’m pretty sure this was a bad idea. Liquid Rage, don’t you know anything about history?”

This brought the entire house down, as at this point everyone had entered the kitchen to watch us suffer over the chili. I got close to giving up.

“I think it’s trying to burn its way of out my stomach,” said the semi-German house guest.

The Irish was cracking up. The One explained that she had a sauce that was hotter.

“No thank you.” Was the chorus that rose up.

We poured more alcohol around to try to tamp the fires that were going on in our mouths, and the rest of the party joined in. Eventually I abandoned my cupful of Liquid Rage chili as being too much for my poor stomach to take, and tossed some tequila over it before heading toward a couch to try to calm the fire in my belly.

Fortunately, even though full of liquid rage, the semi-German made it through the night without doing anyone harm. However several thousand taste buds were killed for our entertainment.

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