We don’t need no water, let the motherfu…wait, yes, yes, we do. The motherfucker in question is my tongue.

Round Two kicked our asses.

Round Two of the Catherine-Christopher tag team salsa experiments, that is.  You see, lovely readers, we have entered a salsa cookoff on Saturday.  Round One was barely worth mentioning, the work of total amateurs, chunky and gross.  Round Two – well, suffice to say that if we submitted this, we’d win by forfeit because everyone who ate this kerosene tomato paste would be dead.

The jalapeno is a mysterious little creature.  Three shouldn’t have been too many; the recipe called for four.  They were roasted to perfection by my darling wife, whose knowledge and ability at cooking surpasses that shit on Bravo, I can tell you.  But we can’t seem to work the balance on the ingredients here.  His tiny seeds thwart us every time.   So I ate the fourth one, just to spite the little bastard, right off the cutting board.  Boo-yah, junior.

I am a HUGE fan of spicy food.  Remember I mentioned my over-the-top fixation with food?  Here it begins.  I have loved spicy food for my entire adult life, which is puzzling, in a way, because my first experience with truly hot sauce came when I was in high school. 

The year?  You don’t need to know the goddamned year. 

The place?  A bar and grill called Schooners in my good ol’ hometown of Galesburg, Illinois.  (Later rechristened Sully’s and still kicking, their wings are perfection.)

The scene: Me, my mother Connie, and my soon-to-be stepfather Dave, whose tolerance for spicy is higher than anyone I’ve ever known.   The man eats habaneros directly from his garden, for Christ’s sake.

Dave: Have a wing.

Me: Are they hot?

Dave: They’re actually “nuclear.”  (This as he pops one in his mouth and gleefully chews away, easy as you please, like it’s a freaking gummy bear or something.)

Me: Sure, why not?

(Note: are all teenagers this fucking stupid?  God, don’t let my kid be this gullible.  Seriously.  “Hey, wanna pick up some asian hookers and go shoot battery acid on the lawn of the police station?” “Suuuuure, why not?”  Idiot.)

I bite into the chicken, and for a moment, all is calm.  Tasty, even.  Warm, like a rich bar..be…que….

…and then my face exploded.

You know that scene in “Terminator II” when Sarah Connor dreams of World War III, and she’s vaporized on the playground by the heat from the nuclear blast?  That is exactly how my lips felt.  Then my tongue.  Then my throat.  I could practically feel my stomach lining shitting itself in horror, pleading for mercy, too late.  I drank enough water to fuel a fleet of camels getting ready to cross the goddamned Gobi and I think the waitress probably would have considered calling DCFS if I hadn’t looked like a little headbanger who deserved to get Punk’d. 

Fast forward six or seven years to when I lived in New Orleans during college.  My tolerance for hot food seemed to surpass Dave’s almost overnight.  I ate hot sauces that nearly melted the sinuses out of my father’s head (another man whose love of hot food bordered on obsession for most of my childhood).   Peppers?  Great.  Cajun seasonings?  Gimme everything you got.  Tabasco?  Yeah, one of those tall glasses, just a couple of ice cubes, thanks. 

Now?  I’m the spicy food guy.  When we go out to anywhere I might order fried chicken, a side of their hottest sauce is mandatory.  Buffalo, chipotle, jalapeno- smother it, whatever it is. 

Come to think of it, it’s the same thing that happened to me and beer.  Most of my life, I couldn’t stand the stuff.  Now?  I want the darkest, richest beer I can find.  My best buddy Mike (more on him later) and I have tried every cream and oatmeal stout this side of Temple Bar, and if we lived in Ireland, we would be those two guys who grow old while nursing Guinness after Guinness.  And we would love it.   I guess it’s just another of many examples of how our tastes evolve. 

I don’t think that anyone’s taste could evolve fast enough for this hellish salsa we just concocted, though.  So, tomorrow night: round three.  And if we happen to put one too many serranos in there, do me a favor:  tell the world our story.

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~ by thismarriedguy on March 11, 2009.

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