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Things that are hot

So there’s this burger joint in Brighton called Burger Off (see, there’s your first hint this isn’t going to be the feelgood story of the day). One of the condiments they offer is an imported hot sauce. A very fucking hot imported hot sauce.

Like, on the Scoville scale of food hotness, Tabasco peppers are between 30,000 to 50,000 heat units, ghost chilis between 855,000 to 1,463,700 heat units, police pepper spray between 500,000 and 5 million heat units and this shit somewhere between seven and nine million units.

Bit of a fake, the Scoville scale. It relies on humans’ subjective ability to taste hotness, and we all know the more you sample, the less you taste the stuff. Also, in their final forms, all these things are diluted to different strengths. Nonetheless, we can safely say Mr Gambardella of Burger Off is serving a very fucking hot sauce.

Incidentally, I don’t know what kind of ‘burgers’ those are up there, but it’s the picture that went along with the Daily Mail article. Looks like a spleen burger or something. I think I’d need a shot of the hot stuff to take a bite of that.

Anyhoo, Mr Gambardella got sick of customers who sampled his sauce and said, “pff! That’s not so hot.” So he now offers a deadly XXX burger to those over eighteen willing to sign a (really illiterate — wonder if it would hold up in court) disclaimer. This burger routinely sends people to the hospital:

One guy came in and he was just a little bit cocky and when he left he was admitted to hospital because prior to eating the burger he had a stomach ulcer and we believe it perforated his bowel. He wasn’t in a good way but he pulled through.

And these two reporters from the Brighton Argus:

Mr Barratt took a bite and minutes later suffered severe stomach pains which increased. He lost the feeling in his hands, his legs were shaking and his eyes rolled back in his head.

And within two hours Mr Hendy was suffering similar problems, following his colleague to hospital.

Mr Barratt said: “It was hard to walk. I needed to drink milk to neutralise the burning, which was hard because I was hyperventilating so much my hands had seized up.”

Mr Hendy said: “I was in so much pain I was telling people I felt like I was dying.”

Why do people do this? I like a drop of Sriracha on my sammich, but I stop short of foods that come with frightening health warnings in pidgin legalese.

My mother once challenged a neighbor to a hot pepper eating contest. All’s I remember is the two of them sitting around the kitchen table after all the peppers were gone, taking swigs of the pepper water out of the jar with tears streaming down their faces. It’s a sickness, I tell you.

But my mama was from Texas.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 9, 2014, 9:13 pm

Let me add in this bit from the Argus article:

The burger, which costs £3.90, contains a sauce made in India reportedly using about 5,000 kilos of piri piri chilis concentrated into one kilo.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: July 9, 2014, 10:16 pm

If you are drunk enough, that hot sauce is really good!

Were they horse meat? Doesn’t look like ground meat.

In the Daily Mail article looks like he is just spreading the sauce on the meat. Should be marinated in it and cooked in it.

Comment from dissent555
Time: July 9, 2014, 11:00 pm

Nope. This is something that I will never, ever do.

Comment from mojo
Time: July 10, 2014, 12:41 am

Yeah, Texicans can be a bit stubborn about such things. My old man used to shoot mockingbirds off the telephone lines, just because it was illegal. He also made the hottest damn chili I have ever scalded my tongue with.

Comment from Paula Douglas
Time: July 10, 2014, 1:33 am

Spleen burger or yam burger. What the hell is that?

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 10, 2014, 2:12 am

I got FOXed once in a pepper spray training session. FOX is 6,000,000 SHU. At first, I thought my face was going to fall off, then I was afraid it wouldn’t! But FOX is what goes on my Bat Belt, right next to the .45.

Comment from Nina
Time: July 10, 2014, 3:07 am

I’ve never been able to do hot very well, but since the fourth go-round with the radioiodine a couple of years ago I REALLY can’t do hot. And Brits don’t know how to do real burgers and far as I saw. What they call a burger is actually a meatloaf sandwich and I do not like.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: July 10, 2014, 3:09 am

I looked at the link… is there a tail sticking out of that guys jar of hot stuff?

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 10, 2014, 3:27 am

Nina: How are doing, tonight? Was ice cream provided?

Eastasia, is your dog doing better?

Comment from Nina
Time: July 10, 2014, 3:44 am

I’m doing fine, the surgery was uneventful, and I’m obeying my insructions to do nothing until Monday’s post-op appointment. Another tumor is toast(in fact the doc said it popped right out because it thankfully wasn’t attached to or embedded in anything), what comes next has not been discussed.

The periop folks are getting mightily tired of seeing me, jes saying.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: July 10, 2014, 3:57 am

I think those are cod fillets. I can see bacon and a cheeseburger patty underneath.

It’s almost hamburger season here in the Pacific Northwest. You need tomatoes still warm from the garden to make a real one.

Comment from Nina
Time: July 10, 2014, 4:19 am

And no ice cream yet. 😉

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 10, 2014, 11:50 am

I hope they at least gave you the interesting painkillers, Nina.

You can get a good burger here, but you really have to know your local eateries. And they do usually put onion and other flavoring in the meat — Uncle B hates this, but I don’t mind.

Damn. Now I’m craving meat loaf.

Comment from Some Burgher
Time: July 10, 2014, 12:43 pm

For our 4th of July burgers, I made what we locally call ‘Squealers’ – burgers made about 30 percent pork sausage. The hamburger meat we can get these days is just too lean. I also mix in some garlic because, garlic! The general consensus is that this makes a delicious burger, although it may just be the beer talking.

As for peppers, living here in The Republic Of Texas, I have acquired a taste for them, but only in a sissy born-a-Yankee way. I love roasted chilies, particularly Hatch chillies. When they’re not in season, I settle for roasting Poblano peppers. Both of these are mostly ‘flavor chilies’ as opposed to ‘heat chilies’. I no longer blink when raw jalapenos are in a dish, but don’t often buy them. I just don’t do serious peppers, unlike my next door neighbor who, like Weasel’s mama, is a true-born Texan.

I never understand those ‘watch how much pain I can take’ pepper-heads. My best guess is that the current lack of sabre-tooth tigers to hunt has left too many of them alive and seeking some other way to prove their stupidity manliness.

Comment from Nina
Time: July 10, 2014, 6:48 pm

I like the favor of ripe chilies, but can only eat the sissy ones. But then again, I have an extremely limited palate and don’t like much.

Stoaty, the non-American-fast food burger patties that I experienced in England also had greens that I think were onions/chives. I don’t mind if the meat is seasoned, just no produce. I like my veggies between the meat and the bun, and I don’t like meatloaf.

Now I want a burger!

Comment from Deborah
Time: July 10, 2014, 8:24 pm

Son was stationed at an RAF base in the U.K. that had a “cafe” just for the American personnel. Son’s best treat was to bring his non-American friends onto the base/into the cafe for an American-style bacon-cheese-burger. The chefs made the buns, which were sweeter and more eggy than Mrs. Baird’s buns, but the rest of the burger was excellent. He also took his friends jars and jars of Welch’s Grape Jelly, which they loved for toast and tea. Maybe grape jelly is now more available in the U.K.?

Comment from Sigivald
Time: July 10, 2014, 9:32 pm

Such waivers have the useful in court ability to prove “we warned you it was stupid hot and you knew what you were getting into”.

(I like hot, just not painful hot.

Habanero sauces tend to be about my level.)

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: July 10, 2014, 10:03 pm

It should be just as hot coming out as it was going in.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 10, 2014, 10:22 pm

@Stark Dickflüssig:

It should be just as hot coming out as it was going in.

As a friend of mine commented the day after several of us ran up a few hundred dollars for Thai food and Sing Ha, “This morning I thought I had a bullet wound.”

Pepper-hot is something you can develop a tolerance for. I’ve always enjoyed spicy food (and my memory of that goes back to about age 5) and I’ve noticed that what I find reasonably hot other friends of mine simply cannot tolerate.

My limit is simply based on flavor. If the heat interferes with tasting the good food then it is too hot, and that is well under the point of pain and tears, not to mention hyperventilation, numbness, coma, death…

But, not to put too fine a point on it, spicy food is indeed hot more than once.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: July 11, 2014, 2:50 am

…this burger joint in Brighton called Burger Off

Hmm-m-m…kind of a nice “double-play”-on-words, there…the place being a burger “take-away” place,and all…

Why do people do this?

The gastronomic equivalent of “Hey, hold my beer, an’ watch this!!“, I think – as Jeff Foxworthy has so accurately observed, you don’t have to be from the South (or even from the U.S. at all, come to that) to be redneck.

I’ve “treated” myself (though never really on the “naw, that ain’t too hot – watch THIS!” basis) to some pretty spicy stuff in prior times, up to and including Habanero sauce…but I’ll go with Uncle Al on this:

My limit is simply based on flavor. If the heat interferes with tasting the good food then it is too hot, and that is well under the point of pain and tears…

Just so – plus, as I’ve aged, I’ve gotten to where I feel far less compulsion towards consumption that I know, full well, will produce certain “after-effects” in about 12 to 20 hours’ time…

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: July 11, 2014, 3:13 am

BTW – this:

Pepper-hot is something you can develop a tolerance for.

…is, of course, quite true, as is the fact that “bland” versus “spicy” is definitely relative to both one’s overall culture AND an individual’s acclimatization over time.

Case in point: When in grad school, I became acquainted with a pleasant young ex-farm-lad who’d recently done a two-year stint through the Peace Corps in Bolivia, mostly up in the Altiplano (the mountain-plateau “outback”), where peppers that run from moderate-high up to pretty-scary-high Scoville numbers are a common meal component – both as “appetizers” and as main- or side-dish ingredients, both raw and cooked. Having eaten that sort of food for most of two years, he said one of his moderate disappointments upon his return to the States was to find that his much-anticipated first cheeseburger, french fries and chocolate malt back in the U.S. was, to him, so bland as to be nearly tasteless – he said it took several months before he stopped dosing most meals with hot sauce, and reacquired his former savoring of a lot of “regular” back-home food. So – there can easily be a “down-side” to too much spicy-hot over an extended period.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: July 11, 2014, 6:13 am

Damn. I’m craving meatloaf too!

Comment from JuliaM
Time: July 12, 2014, 6:38 am

Lightweights! The Old Guard of Fleet Street would have washed it down with a bottle of whisky (or two) and been right as tuppence by dinner time…

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