Day 355: Too Much Hot Sauce

We’re so over-fed in this country that pockets of wierdos have started brewing sauces with the sole intention of causing oral and intestinal discomfort. Hot sauce makers compete over who can scare their customers more. It’s a redneck poetry slam where the name with the most alliteration wins. I don’t care how clever it is (not very), I’m not putting “Birmingham Butt Burner” on my eggs.

Usually we plop comfort food on top of comfort food. Sheppard’s pie is the gastronomic equivalent of a Lazy-boy recliner.  It’s the opposite with hot sauce; we use that stuff to torture ourselves because we’re also a country of macho gluttons who spend Sundays in the parking lots of football stadiums combining over-eating with pain endurance. “Eat this! It hurts!” Discomfort food is uniquely American.

You like dem creamy grits, boy? Don’t be a sissy! Cover that soupy mush in some “Columbine Colon Confusion” and yer farts’ll burn a hole in yer Wranglers ‘fore half time.” 

Maybe it’s more complicated than that. Ingesting hot sauce might fill a subconscious need to self-flagellate. Catholics go to confession, while others repent by ingesting chemical lava – pick your poison, I guess.

It must be a subconscious emotional balancing act of some kind. It’s physically impossible to enjoy something so terrible. Aren’t humans hard-wired to stay away from foods that do them harm? It’s the primary reason we kill animals before eating them.  “I eat my chickens live, ’cause I like how they claw at the inside of my throat goin’ down,” are the words of a sick, sick man.

Try this experiment if you don’t believe me: put hot sauce on your dog’s food. He’ll never trust you with anything again. Watch him frantically lick the sofa to exorcize his tongue of the poison you tricked him into eating. Look at him. Really look at him; his big, sad, confused eyes are saying, “I thought you loved me.” He might even commit suicide just to get away from you. You think animals don’t commit suicide? Have you never seen one eat hot sauce? Ok then.

I could understand the craze if the sauces were medicinal or resulted in a thick buzz. But  just the opposite is true; it’s harmful and makes you sick (on purpose). Unless you think sitting on the toilet eating sour dough bread dipped in ice water is a party, stay away from the ANALize This XXX Garlic Hot Sauce.

Yes, I realize I sound like Andy Rooney.

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I travel a lot for work (I may have mentioned that earlier?), and recently my boss and a few others had an 11-round hot sauce competition – from a bottle that somebody needed to sign a waiver to get. It started with 1 drop of hot sauce on 3 french fries, then 1 drop on 1 french fry, then dipping the fry…. then mixing it with mashed potatoes… and then finally spoons of straight hot sauce. There was more jumping around and sweating and hot and bothered-ness there than I've seen in a long time. They also each ended up downing a pint of ice cream when the competition was over. Where was I for all of this? Playing videographer. Definitely a better choice if you ask me.

Cristina says:

My eighth grade boys one year had jalapeno eating contests at recess – how many you can fit in your mouth and chew for how long, that sort of thing. The other teachers freaked out and told them they'd get stomach cancer and other various consequences. I laughed and offered to referee. When you're in eighth grade, eating spicy foods IS a sport, and that's great. I do hope, however, that they outgrew it before adulthood.

Lisa says:

This is not an American thing, it is an American macho man thing.

Tara says:

Is it still a macho MAN thing if you're a woman? '

I'll admit to being one of the crazy people who loves hot things. The endorphin thing's gotta be true because hot food leaves me on a high!

Also, one of my 3 dogs loves hot food, too. He'll follow me around as soon as I take the lid off the Hotter n' He** sauce. If you've never seen a dog beg for flaming hot cheetos, lick his face for 3 minutes, then repeat, you've never laughed so hard.

Love your column, Jason. Just discovered and have been reading my way through every post. Keep it coming!

Heather M says:

"They say that people who enjoy spicy food, actually enjoy the endorphins it releases. Like a high. I'm a spicy, endorphin lover.

LOVE your blog, by the way. So does my BFF and he's a dude.

Mavis says:

In my hometown, there is a restaurant named Amigos Burritos and they sell this stuff called "Death Paste." It is black. It has a skull and crossbones on the label. It eats HOLES through CLOTHING. No, I have not eaten it. I believe they package it in asbestos. Seriously. W.T.F.

Stacey says:

I hate people who brag about eating spicy food! Really? So what? I enjoy tasting my food not causing my mouth so much pain that my taste buds stop working!

My hubs enjoys eating extremely spicy food. Like it's a sport. I do not. :)

Jason Good says:

Exactly! Like it's a sport. What is that?

KelleyD says:

I think I need to try that with my cats. Leave some tasty chicken doused in hot sauce on the table {they like to eat anything off the table, even if the kids are there eating it} They seem to think the second their bowls are empty that people food is fair game. Maybe that'll teach them. My luck it would just result in them barfing all over the house. And lately just the sound of the cat retching make me throw up. Much less cleaning it up….

Heather says:

I love hot sauce, but not so hot as to cause excruciating pain. By the way, I have found it best to avoid anything with anal and xxx in the name, regardless of what it is. :)

Chloe says:

I like how you subtly compared catholicism to poison, nice touch.

Jenn says:

P.S. He's two, and likes Cholula in his tomato soup, just like me.

Dude says:

So this is where I come to not find commenting dudes?

Jason Good says:

Yes. The ladies tell me dudes don't read anymore

Lucy says:

My ex-husband had a cat who didn't like me but would sit next to me and drool anytime I ate Buffalo wings. So I gave him (the cat) little pieces of the hot sauce-slathered chicken, and he fell completely in love with me. Also in lust, which was odd and embarrassing. The cat *loved* hot sauce, and my thigh.

Megan says:

My husband makes his own hot sauce that he puts in/on EVERYTHING! Its a mixture of habeneros, cayenne pepper and a bit of water to make is the right consistency in the blender. It burns my nose and eyes just being near it when he's making it! I'll stick with mild, thank.you.very.much.

Melanie says:

I used to put sriracha on damn near everything. Pizza..sriracha. Fried chicken…sriracha. Now that I have had my gall bladder out I only use it in pho. My stomach just can't handle it anymore. I also have to seed my jalapenos and take out the white veiny parts now when I make guacamole. If I take one bite of something too spicy, I'm in huge trouble later.

I remember watching people at a friend's party eat straight habanero sauce in a teaspoon. Guy after guy was taking the thing, then turning red and coughing and spewing. One of them said, "I bet Melanie is the only girl who will do this." I said, "Umm, no. No she's not." No thanks.

Sarah says:

You know that hot sauce gets you high, right? There are also a lot of health claims and some research proving benefits to a variety of spices. You build up a tolerance for sure and I am not sure if it's genetic or not but my 18 month old enjoys food spicier than a lot of my friends can eat it…

Jen says:

If it hurts to eat it, I'm not eating it. Except sour patch kids. Those little fuckers get me every time.

Kristin Johnson says:

My side of the family does hot, I mean sweat over your plate hot. I used to laugh at my dad when we ate Chinese and he covered everything in hot mustard and then ordered his meal just as hot. He would perspire the entire time we were eating. This is how I grew up…my husband had never really eaten a jalapeno before he met me. When I was 21 we used to drink spicy hot bloody mary's with Tabasco of course but then to add insult we would put carmex on our lips to see who could handle the heat. My husband now eats spicy like my family. I think its an acquired taste…I have dated men in the past who thought pepperoni was too spicy. I knew then it would never work out. My kids all love spicy foods including hot wings, even our four year old and the hotter the better. It definitely makes eating more interesting. The next time you order pepperoni pizza get it with jalapenos too!

Liz says:

My husband has a whole collection of hot sauces from all over the world. It dominates the door of our fridge. When we first started dating I cooked a nice meal for him. I used to be a chef. I was horribly insulted when he slathered hot sauce onto the meal I had prepared in hopes of impressing him. Then I had dinner at his family's and the table was full of hot sauces. So no more insult LOL!

Jason Good says:

It must be genetic then, eh?

Julie says:

With my husband, it's freakin' A-1 sauce. No matter how I prepare a meat dish, what it's marinated in, or what kind of special concoction I've slaved over to douse it with, he reaches for the frickin' A-1 sauce. I'm sure his dad must have done it too, but he's no longer with us. Nobody else in his family does this, but, after 8 years, I'm resigned. I just cook his meat with salt & pepper and let him douse it.

I'm convinced that his taste buds are screwed up because he smokes so much, and wrap myself in the self-delusional quilt of 'when he quits he'll…' Yeah, right.

Liz says:

Jason I think it is genetic. I seriously sometimes cannot eat their meals because they are so insanely hot. I watch as they all chow down and the food is burning my nose!!!!

Julie when I was pregnant with my oldest I craved A1 something fierce. That and turkey gravy. I hate A1 on every single meat item that sat on my plate,and turkey gravy when onto everything else…even salad. It was gross.

Jenn says:

I think it's a combination of genetics and acquired. I once asked our pediatrician if I could let my son try spicy foods. He said, "What do you think Mexican and Indian children eat?"