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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Of Spice and men.

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Much talk of Chili this week, mostly concerning how hot they are out here and how many of us discovered that "Spicy" in Thailand means don't eat it unless you are Thai.. even if we did grow up eating Vindaloo curries, Kebabs with chilli,  or extra spicy pizza after every visit to the pub on a weekend.  I have some friends coming over this season looking forward to trying our spicy Thai food so it should be interesting.

I remember making family size meals in England where the teaspoon of chili powder spiced up a whole kilo of meat.  Here, I've had dishes that were a good 15 - 20 percent chili once you had added the powder at the table and the side serving of raw chilli's.

My first experience with the Thai "Salad" was in a hotel in Bangkok when I arrived on my second visit.  I say second visit as my first stay was on a 90 day return ticket and I spent one day recovering from jet lag and the other 89 days drinking.  But on my second visit I had matured as I was now 40.

So on my second visit, by the time evening fell I had managed to lay off the booze for an entire half day and was enjoying getting a feel for the sights and sounds of the city from my hotel balcony.  The terrace restaurant looked ok and I wandered downstairs and decided a Salad would be a nice healthy western option for me.  Wrong.

I noticed the staff looking at me when it arrived and should have known something was amiss.  It was, by far and away the hottest chili dish I could ever imagine and the staff were watching to see me flinch and sweat.  I tried not to show my cowardice in the face of this dish and soldiered on with a second mouthful.

At one stage, I pretended there was something interesting happening outside.  I made an exaggerated surprised face and peered hard to the road outside.  It worked. They all went to have a nosey at it and I took the opportunity to gargle a bottle of iced water, mop my brow with half the box of tissues on the table and regain my posture before they looked back round.  This at least gave me the appearance of having survived a full 2 minutes eating without wimping out.

I settled for this respectable length of time and gave in, saying it was perhaps a tad on the hot side for a westerner.  I can eat hotter food nowadays but do tend to use it as a dietary aid... the burning sensation stopping me from over eating.  And, if nothing else, it always gives me an excuse to reach for the chang when I am out with the missus.