Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
But there was something else tucked into that crispy tortilla which made my tongue heated up. A lot. He threw in peppers. Scotch Bonnet peppers. Craig and his girlfriend Shannon had just started dating and were trying to out-macho each other on the Scoville scale. As an occasional participant in their bizarre, heat-related courtship ritual, I considered myself a wimp when it came to such things, but I continued to eat. My eyes burned, my nose began to run. After a couple of bites, I was in discomfort; after a couple more, I was in pain.
The gulping of hot tea did nothing to help. The swishing of orange juice around my gums only seemed to spread the heat everywhere. I had never eaten anything so hot in my life. It was horrible, yet oddly delicious. And then something unexpected happened.