Learning to love spicy food and why you should

Jun 1, 2018 | Food and Culture

Spicy food is not something I ever ate growing up. It was never around for me to try or experience. Because I had no experience with spicy food I had no tolerance for it. Even into my mid-twenties, I couldn’t tolerate any heat at all. In fact, medium chicken wings were about as spicy as I could manage. I had no idea what I was missing.

By the time I was finished eating, I would think “that wasn’t so bad”

I don’t specifically remember exactly what changed or when. I do know that it started slowly. I would make a noodle stir-fry and add a little extra heat by accident, not wanting to throw it away I would suffer through. By the time I was finished eating, I would think “that wasn’t so bad” and the next time I made noodles I would add a little extra heat and then a little more, and then little more and so on.

Because she was adding more spice, I added more spice, then she would add more, so again, I had to add more.

I think things really escalated when my wife, then girlfriend, started working in a Thai restaurant. She would come home and talk about all these spicy dishes the kitchen got her to try and how incredible they were. I was probably a little jealous of these cool culinary experiences she was having and I think this brought out my competitive side. From there on out whenever I made anything spicy, she would eat it, but would always add more spice. Because she was adding more spice, I added more spice, then she would add more, so again, I had to add more. This just kept going and going.

When you start to eat really spicy things, something strange happens.

When you start to eat really spicy things, something strange happens. Among the sweat, the runny nose, and the burning mouth, there is a sense of euphoria. You feel amazing! You feel like you could run a marathon. Your blood is pumping, your skin is warm, you practically vibrate and you just want more.

I had bought the hottest of the three jerk sauces

There was one experience my wife and I had with a jar of jerk chicken sauce that illustrates my point pretty well. I bought a bottle of jerk chicken marinade that was made in Jamacia. I took the bottle home and emptied its contents onto a chicken. I let the chicken sit, covered in this jerk sauce overnight. The next day I roasted the chicken with all of the sauce still on it. When my wife and I sat down for dinner we discovered that the chicken was really flavourful but unbearably hot. What I didn’t realize was that I had bought the hottest of the three jerk sauces this company makes.

My wife and I each took a bite of the chicken and our faces went red, steam came out our ears, and our eyes immediately went bloodshot. We couldn’t eat this chicken it was too hot! It wasn’t just the surface of the chicken either, the spice had penetrated the entire bird. We sat there for a minute, and then we both ate more. And then we ate more. We could barely breathe, but we ate more. We wanted to stop, we just couldn’t. It was so good. It was painful, but it was amazing. Our bodies began to release endorphins and dopamine which sent us into a euphoric state similar to runners high. It was amazing. Over the course of two days, we ate the whole chicken. Although I have to say that she did eat more than me.

My only regret is that I didn’t make the effort to increase my tolerance sooner.

Now that I have experience with spicy food, and I have built up my tolerance, I love it. There is no other experience like eating something really hot and all that comes with it. My only regret is that I didn’t make the effort to increase my tolerance sooner.

Summer is the perfect time to push your boundaries a little and experiment with spice. The hot sun, hot food, and a cold beer make the perfect combination. Yes, it is painful, but it is absolutely worth it. I know that too the uninitiated this seems crazy, but the only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself. You won’t regret it…well you might regret it a little the next morning, but on a larger scale, you won’t regret it.

 

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