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From Here To Infinity...

Posted by Chris Morgan on Thursday, April 14, 2011
As some of you may know, one of my main loves in life is hot food and chilli sauces. I am a mere padawan learner in the Jedi art that is being a true chillihead, but it is a lot of fun learning. 

I'd like to tell you a little bit about the time a chilli pepper nearly took my life. 

Have you heard of the Infinity chilli? 

Neither had I. Until I went to Masterchef Live last year. I wandered up to the Fire Foods stall and asked if he had anything REALLY hot. He smiled and asked if I meant hot or VERY HOT. I told him to blow my head off. He pointed me to a small dish containing some inauspicious-looking red chilli sauce. 

Up until the point I’d tried Naga sauces and a few Ghosts but crucially, had not heard of the Infinity pepper. In I dipped a piece of Jacob’s Cream Cracker in and brought out a nice amount – the sort of thing you’d got for if you knew the sauce was not that hot and you were really trying to get a feel for the taste. It hasnt got anything really hot in - no Nagas or Jolokias - so what's the worry?

First thing I noticed was that it was hot seemingly even before it was actually on my tongue. It was instant. Every other sauce I’ve tried it took a couple of seconds, but this was violent – instantaneous. It’s honestly like a kick to the mouth. It is violent. The first thing you notice is the sheer power of it, and the fact that despite the scorching, immediate heat, there is a very nice, rich taste which holds it own for a very pleasant minute or so against the furnace in your mouth. The heat builds and builds though, and all at once your breath is taken away by the shock of the violence of it – it almost seems incredulous that anything could be so very hot, and whilst you wrestle and squirm with it, the heat builds and builds. Sweat began to prickle the top of my head and my hands went very cold. Icy cold droplets scuttled down my spine like some many-legged creature, and then, as the song goes – the rush comes. It is a two pronged endorphin and adrenalin rush like no other I have experienced (and I’ve bungee jumped and swum with Great Whites). Imagine your first cigarette of the morning times a hundred. It hits you so hard your vision starts to go and your brain swims as if it were in a tank. Shortly afterwards the adrenalin coursing through your veins makes your hands shake uncontrollably, and you get a curious urge. Harking back perhaps from primeval times the rush makes you want to run.
Run away. Run far, far away. 

It doesn’t matter where. I think they call it fight or flight. 

As the heat reaches its uncompromising, coruscating crescendo, you realise that there is no flight from this blast furnace – you must fight. Holding onto a staircase banister for support as my legs had turned to something like stiff jelly, giving me the poise and gait of a baby deer, I noticed specks of clear liquid on my outstretched hands and realised with horror that I was drooling uncontrollably. It was running out of my heaving, belaboured maw and meandering down my chin. Thoughts rush across your brain but you cannot process them – the mind is skittery and out of focus. All that is clear is the pain – it is a jarring, stunning burn in your mouth and across your tongue and lips that forces the breath from your lungs. My tongue feels like rubber. It takes approximately 20 minutes to be able to speak again, and a further 20 to stop shaking enough to be able to sign my name. All the while my dearest wife is looking at me, not with the bored, slightly embarrassed frown she normally has when I am suffering the effects of chilli burn, but with something that might be genuine concern. Or so I imagine. I can’t really say for sure because my eyes are watering so much that thick, salty tears are cascading down my ruddy cheeks. I have not cried in public since we got beat 4-0 in the FA Cup Final by Man United in 1994. I am in too much pain to be embarrassed, but as the heat clears and the vision begins to return I am filled with a new sensation of overwhelming wellbeing.

With a quick and largely symbolic shake of the head I surface and my eyes are clear. I feel f*cking fantastic.

This is me at the peak of my considerable powers.

I can take on the world.

I will never forget the look on my wife’s face when I went to try to buy a bottle of the same stuff that, from where she was sitting, had damn near killed off her beloved. She doesn’t understand. 

 Most people don’t. :)


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