02/26/13 2:02pm

What’s the Spiciest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten?

Japanese shishito peppers, mellow by any true chili-heads standards.

Japanese shishito peppers, mellow by any true chili-head’s standards.

As the old Power Station hit goes, “Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on/Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on,” I fall squarely in the chili-head camp, gleefully slathering Israeli schug on shawarma and perking up ceviche with Peruvian aji verde. Iindulge in fiery fare from Sichuan to Liberia and points in between. Sometimes, though, I can’t stand the heat. Take Thai spicy, please, as in, “Take it away.” After one too many experiences with the sensation of receiving a tongue tattoo with a hot needle I have given up ordering food “Thai spicy.”

In the past when I have ordered a dish “Thai spicy” the server usually approaches, filling my water glass and asks, “Too spicy? Are you okay, sir?” “Oh, no this is good,” I’d gamely respond eyes tearing, nose running, and lips burning as I tried to power through an incendiary meal. It’s been about two years since I’ve uttered the words, “Thai spicy.” Thankfully I can always adjust the spice level of Thai dishes by adding pickled chilies or dry roasted chili powder from the condiment caddy that graces the table.

Here’s what I’d like to know: What’s the spiciest thing you’ve ever eaten? Where do you draw the line? And when you’ve crossed it, how do you cool down? Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.

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3 Comment

  • I eat bird’s eye chilies along with my meals. They’re small, but pack quite a kick. I use a habanero hot sauce quite liberally on any food that I can. I tasted a ghost pepper (naga jolokia) hot sauce. I put one drop on a piece of chicken and my mouth was flooded with heat. Hot stuff! I didn’t try to have more.

  • I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was an innocent-seeming curry dish from a takeout Thai place (in Delaware, of all places). No dumbing down for the local populace for this place. I took about 3 bites and was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear to continue.

  • I’m always defeated by the unholy szechuan peppercorn, the ones they have in China & Hong Kong. Something about the way they numb your lips and bring the industrial-level pain to your tongue. I can take hot just fine but those things are satanic.