RHYS: The other day I bought a chicken sandwich at a deli. It was a really good sandwich, crispy bread, lots of white meat chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and I was really enjoying it until.... I bit into a chili pepper. A really hot chili pepper. You know, the kind that makes your eyes water.
I went up to the counter and complained and was told, "Most people like it that way." As if I was an old fuddy-duddy who didn't appreciate good food. This is really stupid. If you eat a chili, all you taste from then on is...chili. It could be chicken or cardboard, it wouldn't matter.
I've certainly become aware that food tastes are changing with the latest immigrants. We all eat tacos now, we even eat mole which is really spicy. Indian food is showing up more often. Thai food is everywhere and that's pretty hot. And it seems that to eat hot food has become a macho sort of thing. Look at those commercials for buffalo wings--the kind that make steam blow out of a person's ears.
I watch people (usually men) spray tabasco sauce all over their breakfast eggs, looking around with satisfaction as if to say "Look at me. I'm fearless."
So why this attraction for really hot food. Spices were originally added to dishes in countries without refrigeration to stop meat from spoiling. If you could buy good fresh meat from the butcher you didn't need to disguise its flavor under a mountain of spices. If you cook something delicate like shrimp in a spicy sauce its flavor is completely overwhelmed. What's more, if you eat too much hot foot, it spoils your palate for delicate flavors. Are we raising a generation who will never appreciate French
I'm afraid that I still like subtle flavors and good fresh food. Lamb chops grilled, fillet of petrale sole, lobster, oysters, fresh asparagus. Mmmmm. I do enjoy an occasional curry or even a Thai meal, but not the really hot ones. Chicken tikka masala, rogan gosh, sag paneer..which is spinach with curd cheese. But really good curries retain the flavor of the food. A chicken sandwich with sliced chili peppers is a wasted sandwich.
So what about you, Reds--do you approve of this fascination with really hot and spicy food?