Tuesday, March 28, 2017

People Who Say They Like Spicy Food Might Be Lying

Skylar is delusional when it comes to food.

He swears that he likes really spicy food. And maybe he does. But you wouldn't know it if you watched him try to eat it. Because when he does, he inevitably goes into shock and then spends the rest of the evening searching for effective home remedies and emergency medical care.

Look. I wish I liked spicy food, too. I've wanted to like it for a long time. This is mostly because I hate that I totally fit into this Utah stereotype of not being able to touch anything spicier than a banana.

I legit think people who can eat really spicy food and like it are better than me. That's not hyperbole. I actually think these people are better than me. When I'm out with friends and one of them is like "make that extra spicy" after I asked them to let me pepper it myself, in my head I'm like, "yup. You're going to be more successful than me. And you deserve it. And I'm a weak suckface who doesn't deserve happiness."

And maybe instead of working on trying to like spicy foods I should instead work on loving myself. But I don't even want to love myself as long as I insist on being a 32-year-old man who still buys baby food and cries when he accidentally eats zesty ranch.


For years people have told me that if I just force myself to eat foods that are slightly out of my comfort zone, I will acclimate, and before I know it, I'll be eating like a grown man who deserves respect and gainful employment.

But these people are liars. Sexy, tough liars. But liars nonetheless.

Because I've tried. Oh, believe me, I've tried. When the waiter brings out the salsa and he's all "this is mild" I eat it and don't even stop when the skin from my tongue gets stuck in the back of my throat and then I can't taste anything until I go to confession at the nearest Catholic church. AND I'M NOT EVEN CATHOLIC.

And despite doing that, for eleventy hundred years now, there is still no difference in my tolerance levels.

So that's my situation. It's basically the same situation as Skylar's. The only difference: I'm not lying to you about it.

And I know that you think this doesn't affect me so I should stop complaining about it and just be grateful that my hair is so beautiful that they sent a locket of it in Voyager 1 so the aliens would know we are a peaceful planet. But you are wrong.

Not about the Voyager 1 stuff. About the Skylar's delusions not affecting me.

They affect everyone around him. Because the following happens to anyone who goes to dinner with Skylar:

Skylar: Let's see. I'll have the [absurd amount of menu items]. And make it a TEN on the spicy scale.

Waiter: Sir, the scale only goes to five.

Skylar: Oh? THEN MAKE IT A TWENTY.

Waiter: Do you not understand how numbers work?

Everyone else at the table tries to intervene. Because we all remember what happened the last time Skylar ordered spicy food. It's the same thing that is going to happen this time. He's going to eat exactly one bite, order milk even though it's not on the menu, eat a little of everyone else's food, and then take everything he ordered home in a box to rot in the fridge.

Every.

Time.

But does this even when we're like, "Skylar, at least order like a three or something. You're not going to be able to eat the level five." And we talk about it like he's attempting to navigate expert-level white water rapids without any training.

But he doesn't listen. And he takes offense to our attempts to talk reason to him.

One time I picked up takeout food and brought it to him and he was all hot and bothered that I ordered a medium level of spiciness for him but then he still had a hard time eating it and then refused to admit that I had done the right thing.

Look. I'm not convinced that Skylar is much different than all the people out there who order their food spicy. I don't think anyone actually likes it. They just know that when they do it, people like me assume they are better than people like me.

The difference between Skylar and those people? Skylar is not good at faking it.


~It Just Gets Stranger

41 comments:

  1. I just brushed my teeth and said "that toothpaste is too spicy!" I then read your post and realized I will never be awesome! Damn you weak palate =(

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fellow spice-wuss here (I'm also a cheese-wuss, which is constantly getting in the way of my dream of being a legit foodie). My husband "likes" spicy food, but it does such a number on him from the moment he ingests it to the moment he expels it that I wonder what kind of psycho masochist I married.

    Also, why is Skylar drinking Pedialyte?? Is he a six year old with am upset tummy? That seems like the real question here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have never been able to handle spicy food. It's not that I don't like it - it's that it HATES ME. When I was young my mom, who makes super mild chili, used to separate out a pan for me and make it without ANY chili powder in it. As I aged I did acclimate to the spice some. However, it was determined that if it was not going to make my mouth writhe in pain it was going to mess up my digestive track and now every time I try something remotely spicy I am up all night with heartburn and indigestion. And that's after I drink half a gallon of milk (because if I didn't at least do that I'd die).

    ReplyDelete
  4. This had me in tears! People who don't like spicy food totally don't deserve gainful employment!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Protip on acclimating to spicy food: Find a significant other who (actually) likes spicy food.

    I was a spice wimp, and then I started dating my boyfriend who legit will cut up an habanero pepper to put in his eggs. He orders the spiciest version of all foods and then pours about a pound of crushed red peppers on it, just so it "has flavor".

    When we started dating, I'd remind him to make my food less spicy, and he would, but I would still almost die while eating it. But since we had JUST started dating, I was embarrassed to complain so I just powered through. Now, I have a normal human palate for spicy food.

    This is also how I learned to like vegetables.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Note - your boyfriend needs that much spice to give food flavor because he has burned all of his taste buds to the point that cannot recognize any other flavors.

      Delete
    2. I think your significant other has defective taste buds...

      Delete
  6. You actually might be what's known as a supertaster, where you have more tastebuds than most people. All babies are supertasters - that's why they like bland foods, because they have so many tastebuds that they're very sensitive to too much taste. Most people lose tastebuds as they become adults and can tolerate more spices and flavors. But some people keep most of their tastebuds, and they're called supertasters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This makes me feel wildly better about myself!

      Delete
  7. I put sriracha sauce on my eggs every morning. Love it. But I have limits to the spicy I can endure. Once, in India, after I had been traveling for a few weeks and had not had fresh vegetables, I was served a plate of curry in someone's home. I love curry and was excited for the meal, but what made me most happy was that I spotted a green bean in my curry and green beans are my most favorite of vegetables. So, rather than eat the green bean in with the rest of the rice and curry, I stabbed that thing with my fork and put it in my mouth and started to chew. It was not a green bean. It was some sort of very, very, VERY hot chili that was long and thin and in a curry might look enough like a green bean to fool a young, vegetable starved American. I sat there, with tears literally streaming down my face while everyone around me laughed at my mistake. Then, the host simply took my plate of curry and replaced it with a plate of plain white rice and that is what I ate. It took a very long time for my mouth to feel normal again. And I double check all vegetables hidden in spicy dishes ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This definitely sounds like something I would do. In fact I may have a similar experience repressed somewhere deep in my memory which my memory minions are guarding with extreme vigilance.

      Skylar's memory minions must be the stinkin' secret service minions if he orders a FIVE out of FIVE spiciness level every time.

      Delete
  8. I love spicy food and I have an endless stomach so I'll eat it all. But, I always order a 4 on the spicy scale. If you don't know the restaurant well, ordering level 5 is just asking for trouble..

    ReplyDelete
  9. My Pappy used to make a home remedy comprised of equal parts apple cider vinegar, garlic, horseradish, and the hottest peppers you could find. He would blend all of that up and let it "set up" for about a week. Any time my seven year old self dared to sneeze around him I was given a healthy spoonful. Sometimes he would drain the juice and have you drink "armadillo sweat" for sore throats. DID I MENTION I WAS SEVEN!!! Nothing is spicy to me now, I have no tastebuds, and I never sneeze.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I legit love spicy food. And I don't cry about it when I eat it. I decided to be "brave" once and get the hottest sauce on my Cafe Rio enchiladas, and I was disappointed because it wasn't all that spicy to me. One of the great tragedies of my life is that my pregnant stomach slowly un-acclimates to spicy food over the course of my pregnancy. I'm only at 15 out of 40 weeks, so it's only going to get worse. Luckily, I am immediately cured once birthing my baby, so there's that to look forward to.

    When I was a kid, I used to just straight up drink a few packets of mild sauce any time my family went to Taco Bell. It got to the point that it was too mild, so I started doing it with the hot packets. I was never brave enough to try it with the Fire sauce. But maybe you could try that. (Or maybe not. In hindsight, that was a really strange thing to do.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait. Is that pregnancy thing common? I have never heard of that. Bodies are weird.

      Delete
    2. Have you been to Los Cucos in Sandy? They have the MOST amazing green salsa your mouth will ever taste! It's probably a medium level heat so I will not recommend it to people like Eli, but for other successful people like me it's the perfect amount of spice and flavor. And you can even order a quart of salsa to take home if you love it as much as I do!

      Delete
    3. Well, I say un-acclimates, but I guess it would be more accurate to say my stomach becomes more sensitive to spiciness, and I get more and more indigestion and heartburn if I eat spicy foods the longer I am pregnant. The indigestion/heartburn thing is pretty common, I think.

      "Bodies are weird." You said it. Bodies are SO weird. With my first pregnancy, I couldn't eat chicken. If I tried to eat it, or thought about eating it, I would gag and almost throw up. I usually love chicken. Again, I was immediately cured once my baby was born. Our friends brought us Chick-Fil-A while I was still recuperating in the hospital and I ate it just fine. I DON'T UNDERSTAND PREGNANCY BODIES.

      Thus far, I'm still eating chicken during this pregnancy. Maybe I managed to dodge whatever curse the QoC cast on me last time. (I had not previously considered this to be the cause of my chicken aversion, but the more I think about it, the more it makes total sense.)

      Delete
    4. Pregnancy definitely does weird things to you! I ate whole bowls of Lima beans almost daily during my first pregnancy! Craved them! I still like them but only occasionally. Also, I am generally somewhat lactose intolerant, but I craved milk and could drink it no problem while I was pregnant. So weird! Now I'm back to being lactose intolerant. :-(

      Delete
    5. I spit my entire pregnancies. The minute I get pregnant I have way too much saliva and carry a jar around to spit in. It's awful. I throw up if I try to swallow it. No more babies!

      Delete
    6. Also when I'm pregnant I love spicy food but when I'm not pregnant I can't stand it. Like mild is too spicy for me. Pregnant Nicolle piles the peppers on everything. Bodies are weird!!

      Delete
    7. Sarah RB, I have not been there, and we're currently living in Mississippi. But we're moving to the Sandy area this fall, so we'll have to check it out! (After the baby's born, of course.) There is a tragic lack of good Mexican food around here, so I'm already excited!

      Nicolle, I hear you. My saliva production is also in overdrive (although not quite as badly as you, poor soul!), so I am destroying my teeth sucking on mints all day just to distract my stomach from all the saliva I'm ingesting. Pregnancy is so awful sometimes! Good thing the end result is so cute.

      Delete
  11. My husband and I were ordering at a Thai restaurant (which, by the way, took me four tries to spell "restaurant" correctly until autocorrect saved me) and ordered "medium". Thai food has always been spicy in my experience and I was terrified to try anything. I asked for "The mildest of milds you could possibly season. Like a sub-mild. Or maybe not season at all." They brought me a dish that a baby could enjoy so I guess you could say I have a new fave Thai place. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chaun! I am a 32-year-old man who writes all day every day and I literally NEVER spell restaurant correctly on the first try. It's like I am biologically incapable of learning how to spell it. I've even sat myself down and tried to focus on learning it. But it never sticks. I weirdly have the same problem with the work "occasionally" (literally just spelled it incorrectly on the first try) because I always think there should be two Ss, which makes no sense because I have no problem spelling "occasion" correctly.

      Sometimes I think I'm a well-adjusted educated adult writer. And then sometimes I can't spell occasionally. DAMN IT! I JUST DID IT AGAIN!

      Delete
    2. The way I remember occasionally is that you don't spell "ass" in it. I have to say it in my head while typing...

      Delete
    3. I think rest-au-rant, as in a place where you can rest and rant about stuff, but with a fancy French twist.

      Delete
    4. WHY does Blogger not notify when someone responds to your comment? I MISSED THE CHANCE TO BOND WITH ALL OF YOU.

      Eli - 100% with you on the "occasionally" word. When possible, I choose to write it sparingly. Or, as one might say, *occasionally* ;D

      Stander77 & Merete - I'll have to try both of those suggestions. While we're tossing out spelling mnemonics suggestions, in 8th grade I learned "People" is spelled "Pee - OH - pull" and that looks way more weird in writing than saying it out loud.

      Delete
  12. when my husband was in graduate school he made friends with another student, a woman from Thailand. When they would go out for lunch to Thai restaurant she would order her food at top spiciness, then ask them to make it a little spicier. She was rarely satisfied. So when she invited my husband and I over to have dinner at her house, she asked him if I preferred spicy or seafood. The poor confused man said "seafood". Note: I react to seafood the way some of you have talked about reacting to spicy food. So we went and I choked it down, not knowing they had planned this. Later when I found out I told Devin: spicy. For me, always choose spicy over seafood. No matter what. That's my story. We were sharing stories, right?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Being from New Mexico, green chile is life, so I do love spicy food...but only to a certain point. If it's so spicy you can't taste the food you're eating, then what's the point? It's supposed to accentuate the flavor, not overpower it. I can tell I have an above average tolerance, though. We went to a restaurant in Santa Fe that's right by the train station and fairly well known, so it attracts a lot of tourists. When we ordered, the waiter warned us at least three times that our food was "really spicy". We assured him we would be fine, and he didn't seem convinced. Probably because my husband and I are both pasty white, but I digress...anyway, we started eating and the food had barely any kick to it at all. Like, if 10 is the hottest thing I've ever eaten, this was maybe a 3. Maybe. This was several years ago and we still laugh about it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. YES, anyone who "loves spicy food" is for sure lying. Oh really, you just love it so much when the food is so hot you can't taste it? Mm, sure you do. They are trying to look cool, that's it. I have no patience for these people. Own your non-spicy self who doesn't need to pretend you like spicy just to seem hardcore. APPLESAUCE IS HARDCORE.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love Thai spicy-after a bit my mouth just goes numb so it doesn't matter any more-green curry chicken a-is a favourite. On the other hand, really spicy Mexican food just tastes bitter to me and destroys the meal. I can eat much spicier things after living in SE Asia for 4 years. I live in Taiwan now and their food seems so bland in comparison. My father would laugh to hear me say that as before SE Asia I thought mild Pace's picante sauce was spicy. ��

    ReplyDelete
  16. I grew up scraping off the tiny bit of black pepper that someone had dared put on my meal. My husband, on the other hand, claims to really love spicy food. I'm leaning towards believing him, since he grows his own habaneros and ghost peppers and makes his own salsa and hot sauce with them. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to just to prove he's better than me. But then again, he likes to shock people who come to our house and want to try his hot salsa, so maybe he's doing it make all of our friends think he's better than them?? How far will he take it?

    ReplyDelete
  17. This one time...at band camp..or maybe on vacation in Missouri, I always get those two mixed up..anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the feeble attempts of a Yankee to convince a Texan the salsa on the menu was "spicy, spicy, super-spicy". He got the side-eye as I ordered it.

    One bite and I nearly spit it out. And then I waved to my now-smug looking waiter to come over.

    ME: I'm sorry, but I guess I was mistaken about your spicy salsa.

    WAITER: (smugly) I told you it was super-spicy.

    ME: And yet, I was unprepared fo-

    WAITER: The super-spiciness?

    ME: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    WAITER: (blank look - his cinematic education sadly lacking)

    ME: (contemplating announcing myself as Inigo Montoya, and thinking better of it) No, I wasn't prepared to dip the chips in.......marinara.

    WAITER: Huh? That's our super-spicy, spicy salsa!

    ME: Spicy? Honey, unless I'm sweating profusely and my eyes are this close to popping out of my head, it's not considered spicy where I come from. Bitch, please...

    ReplyDelete
  18. I already commented, but people's stories reminded me of another good spicy story. Growing up, our next door neighbors were from India. Our closest neighbors would get together for neighbor barbecues sometimes, and they would make the most delicious curry chicken (not a rice curry, but chicken covered with curry and other spices that was then barbecued). They would make their own batch and then the batch to share with the neighbors. To them, the "neighbor" batch basically had no flavor, but to the rest of us it was so spicy it would make our noses run and burn our tongues. (But it was so good!)

    Over the years, one of brothers and I got so acclimated to their chicken that we finally were able to try some of their regular batch and not die. We were so proud. It's been so long, though, it would probably destroy my insides if I tried it now.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Why is he drinking Pedialyte? That's what I give my children when they get diarrhea...unless that's what spicy food does to Skylar, then it would make sense. But I get the sense he can't even consume enough of it for that to happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had been surfing all day (well, Skylar was surfing. I was rolling around in waves and swallowing 300,000 gallons of ocean water) and by the evening we both had dehydration headaches so Skylar went and bought Pedialyte.

      Delete
    2. Oh, well that makes sense, then. Well, even if you can't handle spicy food, at least you're brave enough to attempt surfing! And I'm sure your hair looked fabulous the entire time.

      Delete
  20. We call this "wimpy tongue" in my family, which most of us have. But no one has a wimpier tongue than my mother. She likes her salsa almost sweet, dear gal. But we've also got the opposite side of the spectrum; one brother adds jalapeños to an alarming number of dishes, and the other really likes spicy kimchi. (Have you ever had kimchi? It's pungent. But also it's burny-hot, so maybe people can keep eating the stuff because the spice literally burns off their taste buds?) I myself am on the wimpier side, but I like my salsa hotter than ketchup, please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True story - I had a cat named "Kimchi" once, and we named him that because he was stinky, spicy, and a royal pain in the arse.

      Delete
    2. That's awesome! Such an appropriate name!

      Delete
  21. I like flavor, but I want to know my lips are still there when I finish a meal!

    ReplyDelete