Some restaurants like it hot
Suggestions for those who think spice is nice
I’m relatively sure I wasn’t born with a love of spicy food; it’s a fondness I’ve developed over time. Truth be told, it’s become an addiction, and the threshold for what will satisfy my masochistic pleasure has soared ever higher. For me, bland is boring, and I seek comfort in full-blooded spicing. I gravitate toward food that’s favored in warmer climes. At Mexican restaurants I ask for the off-menu hot sauce: I order my Indian dishes with the maximum degree of heat; and I douse otherwise unappealing things with Sriracha as if it were ketchup.
That’s not to say that I haven’t met my match at times, even in a town that regards Colby cheese and butter as condiments. I’ve always had an affinity for anything Cajun. On an early visit to New Orleans Take-Out, I opted for shrimp etouffee, a vibrant classic billed as “very, very hot.” Skeptically, I quizzed the server, who said he’d make sure mine was “very, very hot.” In one word, it was vicious.
I adore Southeast Asian cuisine and its complex needle-sharp flavors. The curry squash at Lao Laan-Xang appeared to be an innocuous dish, but ordered native — the highest level of spice — it set me on fire. However, the most scorching thing I ever put in my mouth was the larb at Monsoon Siam 2. A pungent salad of ground beef and peppers wrapped in lettuce leaves, it was sheer torture to finish (but I did). It’s no longer on the menu, but apparently you can ask your server, and they might still serve it.
Most peppers I adore, but I draw the line at ghost peppers — 400 times hotter than Tabasco. The ghost chili chicken wings at Funk’s Pub in Fitchburg come with a warning. They were agonizingly memorable to say the least, but how could I say no?
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