Thursday, May 24, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a casual business luncheon with some associates of the newspaper. We decided to go to a nearby Mexican restaurant that whips up a mean meal. When our food arrived, though, I couldn't help but notice how my dining companions eagerly grabbed the salsa and liberally doused their entrees.

Now, normally I play it safe when it comes to spicy foods, but hey, I just watched 3 people turn their meals into salsa soup, so it must not be too hot, right? I leaned in and dipped a chip in a healthy amount of salsa, put it in my mouth, and realized my error in roughly 2.4 seconds. This salsa wasn't just a little hot; it was a LOT hot.

In an attempt to escape my already-sealed fate, I decided it would be best to skip the whole "chewing" nonsense and swallow the chip and the rapidly-burning salsa as quickly as possible. This, of course, resulted in me giving myself a nacho tonsillectomy and a sore throat that lasted the better part of the week. Yay.

I do NOT understand the appeal of overly spicy foods. I mean, there are a few common-sense guidelines that I like to live by, and one of them is simply: "Food should not be painful." Yet I have masochistic friends who think that setting one's tongue on fire makes for a superb night out. Friends who buy hot sauce so nightmarish that merely one drop can turn a vat of chili into a gastro-intestinal abomination. Friends who are, clearly, idiots.

I'm not saying that I don't enjoy flavor to my meals. Flavor is nifty. But there's a difference between something being flavorful and something being downright death-hot. Take that salsa for instance. It didn't taste particularly salsa-y. It didn't taste like much of anything. It just tasted like BURNING.

Look, nature didn't make peppers hot for a taste sensation; they're hot in SELF-DEFENSE. That way, when Peter Cottontail goes hopping down the bunny trail in search of something to nibble on, he skips the jalopenos. Otherwise, Little Bunny Foo Foo learns an important life lesson in what to and to NOT gnaw on. That way, the peppers survive and make little baby peppers until one day we are ruled by a supreme race of habaneros. So, to that end, I suppose we should be grateful for those of us stupid enough to enjoy sticking the things in our mouths.

Perhaps some people are simply born lacking the taste buds required to go, "Hey, mouth on fire = bad." Me? I'll take the safe route, thanks.

In the decade that I've worked for our papers, the building across the street from our main office has seen many incarnations: antique shop, coffee shop, etc. But the weirdest was its short stint as a Mongolian barbecue joint. Now, I'm thinking "mmmmm, barbecue," right? Throw another pig on the spit and sign me up, I loves me a good barbecue.

And when some of the bigwigs here at the paper decided to go check it out, I invited myself right along. Back then, I was the new guy who nobody knew, and any opportunity to get a little face time with some of our more distinguished co-workers couldn't be a bad thing. This would be my time to shine, to schmooze it up, to make myself known, to climb the corporate ladder. Little did I know my plan would be stymied by the Mongols.

Wikipedia informs that the Mongols ruled over the largest continguous land empire in history, conquering and covering some 12 million square miles. They accomplished this task by obviously inviting their enemies over for some barbecue. Now, I can't say for certain what the primary ingredients in a Mongolian barbecue are, but if I had to guess, I would say: battery acid.

Within seconds of my first bite, I was red-faced, sweating, and drinking my body weight in water. My stomach, meanwhile, was expressing its displeasure via a series of well-timed grooooooooinks. So there I am -- all red, sweaty, and groinking -- trying my best to make impressive small talk while my lips melted off my face. My coworkers, meanwhile, just keep shoveling the stuff in their mouths happily.

"Hoo, this has a bit of a kick to it," one of them said. A BIT OF A KICK? I thought, trying desperately to fend off full-on systemic failure. I ate half of the bowl-o'-terror, excused myself, ran back to my office, drank our vending machine out of milk, and spent the rest of the day taking care of business (and I sadly don't mean working.) A good impression is exactly what I DIDN'T make that day.

But I don't care. I walked out of there with my mouth on fire but my sanity intact. Spicy food's for the birds. Well, no, I bet a bird would DIE if it had eaten that barbecue.

Maybe I'm just destined to be one of those old guys you see at the buffet restaurants every day -- you know, the places with no fewer than 200 exceptionally bland varities of food, all of which strangely taste like chicken? I'm not a fan of bland food, either, but with that I can at least guarantee the safety and well-being of the fragile ecosystem known as my lower intestine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Shane,
I was reading one of your articles purely on accident, what happened is my dog took a piss on the newspaper and the only page that was dry was yours!Destiny I know!

I decided to read your article on something about Google, and a zillion hits.I thought it was pretty interesting ,well I mean the article pretty much stunk, but the keywords you left the readers at the end of the article were nice!

Anyway, my whole point of this long comment is. Write articles that teach the readers something. I didn't know many people used "Truth Of Kennedy's Assassination" as a keyword. But now I used it on one of my sites and its bringing 20 percent more traffic to my site! Thanx Shane Brown!

By the way, why do I get the dispatch for free? I never ordered that piece of crap you call the newspaper...Is there anyone I can call to stop sending me that garbage? JK, I loves the paper! Have a great day...