Sabina at Victim to Charm loves spicy food, and I don’t. Two opinions collided…
A warm tingling filling my mouth. My nose running so hard that I wonder if it’ll ever stop. Maybe even a lone tear.
For some, this sounds like torture. Why would you ever voluntarily subject yourself to a burning tongue?
Because it’s delicious.
Here’s the thing about spicy food: it’s never bland. It sounds obvious in theory, but in a sea of grilled chicken and cheese pizza, I welcome anything with a kick. I’d take pho with sriracha over mashed potatoes with gravy any day, even though sometimes I can’t see my noodles through the tears welling in my eyes.
You know how they say variety is the spice of life? Spicy food is involved in a huge variety of different meals and cuisines.
Andouille sausage is the cornerstone to Cajun gumbos and jambalayas. Buffalo sauce has a tang that makes it go perfectly with chicken. Pepper jack cheese adds a bit of interest to an otherwise standard turkey sandwich. (Speaking of sandwiches, Subway now offers a sriracha sauce and it’s delicious. Okay, enough about sriracha.)
A bit of heat is also common in Indian and Thai curries. Natives of Thailand prepare their food so much spicier than even the “hot” level at a Thai restaurant in the U.S. The first time I tried authentically hot Thai papaya salad (made by my exchange student in high school) I ate it over the kitchen sink. Tears were streaming down my face and I couldn’t imagine my mouth ever returning to a normal temperature. But I kept going back for another forkful—it was such a unique, interesting flavor that I wanted to experience it again and again.
That’s what I truly love about spicy food. If you disregard an entire taste experience, you miss out on the enormous range of flavors from different cultures. The spice keeps our taste buds on the proverbial edge of their seats, ready to respond to exciting experimentation instead of hardly registering the same tedious combinations of ingredients.
We let our mouths tingle so that we can too.
For as long as I can remember, I have hated spicy food. The hatred started back when I was a little kid, when my family went to an Indian restaurant and I ambitiously asked the waiter for what the rest of the family was eating. I remember eating a spiced lamb that left my tongue numb and raw for hours.
I eat spicy foods every now and then but always make sure I have a glass of water or milk handy.
The allure makes no sense to me. How can you appreciate the taste of your food if your taste buds are overpowered by the spice?
When it comes to food, I lean mild; the challenge of trying spicy foods is too much for me. I don’t like harsh notes. I love mellow combinations.
But I’ve recently started to reconsider my approach. Perhaps I can explore different types of spicy foods, in moderation.
Spicy foods make you sweat, and force you to slow down when you’re eating. Making your body work for the food is a sign of a much healthier relationship between you and your food. The spice in peppers helps your digestion, if taken in appropriate quantities.
Yes, spicy food will never be bland, but for the truly faint of heart, there are ways to experience a culture of food by working around the heart of the heat.
I experimented with different types of spicy foods this week:
Jalapenos – I have decided that I like the flavor more than the actual pepper. In very few circumstances would I ever consider consuming the seeds.
Sriracha sauce – This chili sauce seems like it would be best paired with some sort of unhealthy food such as ramen, fries, or meat. It starts out mild but kicks the back of your throat as it goes down, all tangy and sour.
Wasabi – it tastes gross. I understand the functional purpose, which is to cleanse the palate and kill any weird germs in raw fish, but it leaves my mouth numb, and its sharp flavor breaks the smooth flavor and texture of the fish. I’d rather take my chances.