Sorry I didn’t get a column written yesterday, but we ended up going up to Grafton once again yesterday to spend the day with Cheri’s mom. That has been six trips for seven days over a 13 day period, and we have put on 1200 miles in driving, so that didn’t leave a lot of time for much anything else. Things should settle out a bit more now.
I remember watching in awe as a little boy as my dad would take an entire hot spicy pepper and pop it in his mouth, smiling all the while. I really believed it was a super-hero ability, to be able to withstand the incredible heat of a piece of food, while if I even tasted a drop of the liquid in the jar, I would melt into a puddle. Mom liked hot foods, too, but Dad was really the world champion, in my eyes.
As I grew older, I began to experiment myself on tasting and swallowing foods that probably no human should be eating – but I couldn’t help myself… it was my legacy. I remember going to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and as they brought out the little bowls of red sauce to dip our chips in, I would ask if they had anything hotter. The server would smile, and bring me out a bowl of some green colored concoction, which, as I dipped a chip in it, and then ate it, would peel some of the plaque off the inside of my brain. It became kind of a fun trick when we would go out with friends, to find the spiciest thing I could stand to eat, and just enjoy the food. I would always pick out the pepperoncinis from salads or pizzas that no one else would want, and pop them down like candy.
Cheri’s extended family used to use all that as a clue to what to get me for birthday or Christmas. I remember one year, I was given a bottle of “Dave’s Insanity Sauce,” not made of peppers, but of pepper extract. The instructions on the bottle said to use one drop. Of course, that was silly. The four of us had hot dogs one night, and I opened the bottle for the first time, and put four little drops of sauce on the hot dog. As I bit into the thing, suddenly I began to sweat – profusely – and the boys yelled that my face was turning a bright red. It really was one of the few times that the heat overpowered me – I couldn’t pour enough milk into my mouth to counteract the burn…
We have a HuHot restaurant in town – it’s supposedly a Mongolian grill, where you stack the meat and the vegetables in a bowl, and then ladle in spoonfuls of a variety of sauces, from simple soy sauce to the sauces that have five flames on the description. They then grill it up for you and wish you well. There have been times when I overdid the sauce on the upper end a wee bit, and I have learned to always bring a handkerchief to wipe my sweating eyes, so as not to accidentally spread the sauce over my retinas.
You see – it’s capsaicin. It’s that wonderful essence of pepper that burns and raises your heart beat and fills you with almost a rush of incredible firing of nerve endings as they are flooded with the equivalent of a small lava flow through your veins. It’s truly wonderful, even though I am sure that over the years, it has managed to just fry to a crisp any reasonable ability to taste something mildly spicy. It comes at a cost, although I can tell you I have the arteries of a 14-year old and the doctor believes I probably will never be at risk for a stroke!
Last night, however, we got home a bit late from Grafton, and had not made any real supper plans. Adam talked us into ordering some Chinese food, and since I decided to eat lightly, I ordered the hot sour soup. As I looked at the item, I noticed you could select “heat” levels. There was mild, moderate, spicy, extra spicy – and then I saw it, “Extremely spicy!” like a moth to a bug zapper on a summer evening, I ended up checking the box, and muttering under my breath like Rocky getting ready to fight the Russian “Go for it…”
The soup came in an unassuming plastic container, and I poured a big bowlful and began to eat. Have you ever had the sensation of thinking you could actually smell colors? It was truly brimstone hot. Every spoonful was the equivalent of pouring hot oil into my mouth. It was glorious, but whoo-ha – it was hot!
I finished the bowlful, and noticed my hands were shaking a bit. I’ve never taken recreational drugs, but this had a real kick to it. It lasted for a couple of hours, actually, as I sweated while watching tv from my chair. At 10pm, I went to bed, and I think I fell asleep in about 45 seconds. Unfortunately, the high wore off about three hours later, as I noticed that I had no moisture in my mouth – it must have boiled away.
It really was a great meal. The only thing is, there is half a container left for lunch… At this point, there is a slim difference in the definition between brave and foolish. Wish me well. Should be a sleepy afternoon…
Word for the day: abjure. Pronounced ab-JUR. It’s actually a legal term, like perjury or jury, but it has a different meaning. They all come from the Latin, “jurare,” which means to swear about something. The “ab” is the prefix which means “away.” So, to abjure something is to, in legal terms, renounce with an oath, or to deny. In the larger sense, it means to abstain, or avoid, or to denounce either a habit, or practice or way of living. An alcoholic in recovery attempts to abjure the use of alcohol. It’s a great question to ask someone, if you want to sound very learned..
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.