Can’t stand the heat
Our man gets a taste of things to come as chillies prove too hot to handle ahead of the Open House Food Festival in Belfast
Should you ever have your bottom impaled on a large pitchfork or find yourself set on fire, you will come close to experiencing the sort of torment and throbbing that I faced last week.
For the latest in my wacky series of bizarre feats, I was asked to take part in a Chilli Challenge in Belfast and idiotically, I agreed.
My instructions were simple — eat as many chillies as possible without self-combusting or igniting like some sort of human Catherine Wheel.
The very fact I had to sign a disclaimer preventing the organisers from being held responsible should I turn into a Teletubby or die from the ridiculous dare filled me with much trepidation.
Before long I was sitting in the middle of Custom House Square, about to start eating a plate of scorching chillies and being howled at by boisterous builders.
“Get them down you, cub. Come on.” one yelled.
“Hurry up, ‘til we get a laugh.” shouted anoth
er, with a cackle.
Being bullied by Bob the Builder was not how I envisaged my future at 12-years-old.
I don’t even like chillies, which made the ordeal that even more preposterous, but I couldn’t back out as several builders had gathered to watch me melt. Two in particular, both of colossal proportions, swore they could do it no problem.
“Don’t be a chicken and eat the chillies,” barked Phil, a broad-shouldered builder who looked as if he could probably kill a man with just a slight tap of his shovel-like hands.
His accomplice Bob (his actual name) reminded me of Handy Andy in Changing Rooms.
He probably had a tattoo of an anvil on one of his robotic arms and could easily knock up a chest of drawers out of an old door and some buttons in ten minutes.
Moments later, the battle between boy and builders commenced to much commotion.
“First up is the Red Savina — the hottest pepper in the world for over a decade.” explained organiser Kat.
“With a fiery rating of 580,000 Scoville heat units, it’s sometimes known as the Devil’s Tongue Pepper.
“But don’t worry Rodney, I’ve got you some milk which should numb the pain.”
After taking a bite of the chilli I could feel my face and throat sizzle.
I was perspiring like a peach, needing desperately to drink half a cow to ease the anguish. It was vile.
“Capsaicin is the active irritant in chillies that causes the burning sensation in mammals.” explained Kat.
“The sensation has no lasting effect and in actual fact does no harm but tricks your central nervous system into releasing endorphins, in turn producing a pleasurable sensation in the body.”
My hard nut competitors took it all in their stride. “Don’t be a wuss, snarled a talking-while-eating Phil.
Next up was the Naga Morich, hailing from Bangladesh. This mental spice is a close cousin of Bhut Jolokia, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's hottest chilli.
“The Naga has recently tested at 1,598,227 Scoville heat units, half as hot again as the Bhut. It's fresh, citrusy flavour is often overlooked in view of their incredible heat,” said Kat.
At this point I was sweating profusely, more so, than if I been at one of those all night raves. My tongue and throat were in extreme pain. There was no way I was going to try this without being knocked out, so I quit the challenge.
“Ah, yer a big girl’s blouse.” howled Phil. Before he scoffed the lot in one go.
“Actually,” stammered Phil, seconds later, “That’s burning the mouth of me,” before spitting the chilli out.
What followed was a round of horrific expletive that I don’t think even Gordon Ramsay would utter.
Almost in tears, a defeated Phil shuffled off with Bob after being warned to “quit the carry on” and get back to work or they’d be crying over their P45s.
And so again, I fail. Rubbish.