Burn Me Up
As usual, the food packed a monster bite.
I often wondered if they fixed it that way to counteract the oppressive humidity that constantly pushed the coastal temperature way past tolerable levels.
Thailand, land of gentle breezes and a thousand smiles, home to some of the kindest, most fun loving people on earth.
I smiled and joked with my friends, wildly gesturing to compliment their broken English and my paltry grasp of Thai.
No other foreigners graced that local, outdoor restaurant.
I felt privileged.
As the warmth in my mouth began to cross the line, I looked for the sweet dish customarily placed on the table to cut the heat.
I grabbed the bowl of cucumbers with red bell peppers soaked in honey water, dug my spoon deep, chomped on a huge bite in anticipation of the cool, sugary burst designed to mollify the fire on my tongue and in one volcanic instant, sustained the single, greatest experiential lesson of my culinary journey:
Color does not necessarily dictate the origin of a vegetable.
The sudden realization that chopped chilies looked like peppers came coupled with a burn so ferocious that my throat slammed shut, sweat burst off my face and I began to gasp for air, panting tiny pants, praying that I might soon breathe, gripping the table and gaping at my friends, eyes bugged out of my head, grasping for any kind of relief, afraid even, that I might never again catch a breath.
The redder I turned, the harder they laughed, tumbling off their chairs in mad fits of hysteria, slapping me on the back and pointing at the chilies, shaking their heads and trying to mimic the face of that crazy American, reliving the parody amidst great guffaws.
I sat, flame-thrower at full bore roasting my innards and endured.
You’d think that that horror might curb my appetite for spicy food.
Naw—at least not for more than a few days.
The magnificent human quality of resilience quickly chipped the edge off the intensity of my memory.
I went searching for the next savory pimento.
A short drive separates the Louisiana border from our Florida home.
Every so often, I get a hankering for a sauce piquant, an urge to dive into a zesty etoufee and collide with the wrath of fresh Tabasco.
Distractions disappear the second my tongue lights up, an e-ticket to life in the moment, where daily vicissitudes lose all significance and quieting the combustion takes sole center stage.
Gimme another forkful!
Time to hurt myself!
Some of us have little interest in leading a mild existence.
We want ginger, cinnamon and horseradish, mustard, sour pickles and zingy barbeque, enchiladas, shrimp gumbo and an occasional habanero.
Smear wasabe on white rice.
Smother a fresh roll with cayenne gravy.
Leave the vanilla for those who walk the middle of the road.
In the words of the great Bob Dylan:
“It ain’t me babe.”
That’s A View From The Ridge…
Best-selling author, Ridgely Goldsborough has written 19 books to date, 5 on emotional intelligence and has developed a phenomenal program called CustomerConversionFormula.com that you can get absolutely free as a member of the Groove community.