Nothing beats the adrenaline rush brought on by spicy food. I love it. Whether it be hot sauces, a good curry, or peppers themselves, I try to have something that puts me in mild agony once a week. Flavor aside, spicy food is actually pretty healthy for you: it boosts metabolism, reduces inflammation, and some say even helps to fight cancer. That being said, how hot is too hot? I’ve had some things that have put me in tears. Sauces and foods which have taken my breath away. But at the end of the day, it’s the flavor that has me coming back. It’s not a macho, look-at-my-masculinity thing. I’ll suffer in silence. For most others, that might be the case. They want a hot sauce that you need a waiver to sign to show off and say, “Look at me!” No one in their right mind, or no one for the love of food needs something that spicy. Because with that intense heat comes a loss of flavor. And when something (hot sauce) meant to be a flavor enhancer actually detracts from it, then it becomes pointless.
I was sampling some meats, cheeses, and sauces at Aged and Cured in Lancaster County’s Kitchen Kettle Village. Admittedly, the first few sauces I had did nothing for me. So I grabbed a bottle of Mad Dog 357 and poured a few drops onto a tortilla chip. I missed the note saying it measured 357,000 Scoville Units, or the index used to measure spice intensity. However, my ignorance was soon shattered. My tongue very quickly became the object of a Medieval inquisitor. It was on fire. I gasped for air. To make matters worse, this was not a restaurant where I could grab water (which would make it worse anyway) or bread. I literally was standing there in pain with nowhere to go. Temporarily, I was fearful. I bought a bottle of cream soda at this same store which provided relief in spurts. I ran to the Jam & Relish Kitchen for more samples of anything I thought would soothe my mouth. I must have looked like a madman—an inconsiderate New Jerseyan bumbling my way through the kind country-folk. This was my own fault due to carelessness, and I knew it.
All in all, it took about 45 minutes before my tongue finally stopped hurting. That’s when the reviewer in me started pondering: “There was absolutely no flavor to that whatsoever”. In fact, it was quite bitter. I sent myself to hell and back for no reason. This was nothing like the equally sinister Pappy’s Mooonshine Madness BBQ Sauce which will kill you but at least taste great. I’ve added that stuff to everything over the years, including fried rice when heating up leftovers. The only thing I would use 357 for is inflicting revenge on an enemy.