I haven't been more frightened to eat something as I was this week. Food critic and resident sadist John Linn walked up to my desk holding what looked like a glass trophy filled with long green peppers. He asked if I liked spicy foods and I replied that I did. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I regretted saying them. Sure I'll pour Tabasco sauce on my eggs in the morning and order hot wings at bars during football seasons, but I never venture into the extra hot wings and I'm routinely scared off when a waiter informs me that the dish is "super spicy." Now with two little words, I'm afraid I've just signed myself up for an afternoon of excruciating pain shooting through my GI tract.
The glass container is labeled "Pickled Cayenne Peppers" and they look
like Satan's gangrenous fingers. The long, thin peppers come to a point
that looks sharp enough to poke an eye out. After a couple minutes I
look to my boss for any kind of excuse to get out of blistering my
tongue and he suggests it might be a good idea to have some kind of
dairy product around when we eat these. I quickly agree with him and
decide to put off my torture at least one more day. In hindsight, that
wasn't the best idea. I spent the next 24 hours with visions of my
bandaged tongue and John's maniacal laughter dancing in my head. I
decided to break the rules and research these peppers in an attempt to
satiate my fears.
It didn't work. My research only confirmed my fears. With a Scoville
rating in the 30 to 50 thousand range, the cayenne pepper is about
22,000 Scoville units above my comfort zone. I stopped at a convenience
store on the way to the office, grabbed a half gallon of milk and some
yogurt, and prayed the peppers had somehow found their way into a
No such luck as I'm greeted with John's sly smile and another
invitation to ingest pain for everyone else's amusement. Since I'm all
out of excuses now, I take a deep breath and agree to give it a shot. A
small crowd gathers around the desk as we open the jar. I breathe
deeply, expecting the scent to sting my nostrils and clear my sinuses.
Instead, it smells like straight vinegar. We take a long, thick pepper
from the jar and cut it into three small pieces. Three of us pop it
into our mouths and wait for the pain.
It never comes. These peppers taste more like pickled green beans than
hot peppers. In fact, I've had Spicy Asian Wings at a certain chain
restaurant that had more heat. After the days of worrying about eating
these peppers, I find myself disappointed as I chew on the soggy flesh
and bite through seeds. It's like waking up on Christmas morning and
realizing your parents spent all the present money on crystal meth and
pony rides. For themselves.
We repeated the experiment with another pepper, fearing the first might
have been a dud of some sort, but it was the same as the first. The
heat is a non-factor, the taste is more vinegar than anything else, and
the texture is closer to cooked green peppers than the crunchy pickled
peppers I expected. This experiment was a resounding disappointment.
The glass container that I original pictured as being a trophy to be
proudly displayed after finishing the peppers now is a sign of epic
disappointment and a reminder that I over think these types of things
too often. Of course, now that I've written this blog, I have a feeling
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the next few things my coworkers bring me will be truly heinous and
will cause some type of immense pain. C'est la vie.