Sweaty feet. Moist skin, allover. Bleary, teary eyes. These are all possible telltale symptoms of eating the "New Century's Hottest Habanero Hamburger" at the Prince of Wales Pub in San Mateo. Bragging rights come with the burger, along with a fluorescent orange bumper sticker declaring your accomplishment. Unadvertised effects could be: clear sinuses and extra energy. Part of the reason for trying the burger was novelty. My craving for beef is especially strong today, probably because I have a potent hangover that weighed my head down.
The Prince of Wales pub has a cheery beer garden that hosts throngs of men, of the business, preppy, and construction worker variety. I was the only female besides the bartender, and stood out in my short animal print skirt and glamour gal sunglasses. I laughed off the men's concerns, and gleefully signed the pub's waiver after ordering. The two bartenders joked about the ambulance that came to get a guy who ate the habanero burger, just yesterday. As I ate later, I wondered if maybe they weren't joking.
The pub rings a bell and calls out something about a hot burger when it's ready, causing the lunch crowd to cheer and call out, "All right!" The first bite of the burger brought a smile and almost half shrug. "What's the big whoop?" I wondered to myself, waiting for the heat. I finished the last three ounces of my Spaten as I continued eating. (To really get rid of heat, go for dairy, not water or beer). The heat gradually came on, and my mouth seemed to dry out as I continued eating.
Halfway through, I began to feel as if I couldn't taste much. The fun of eating my novelty burger was diminishing quickly. Sweat poured down my face, and baby tears fogged my glasses. Looking at the five bites left made me sigh. The beef isn't the best quality, and may need more fat-80% beef, 20% fat usually works. I soldiered on. The last two bites were fogged over by more sweat and tears. I felt sweat under my arms and feet, something I am not used to.
I sashayed out of the pub to many a "hurray," after a quick stop to tidy up my grubby face in the loo. I doubt I'll put the bumper sticker anywhere but above my desk. I have to give the burger another try, because the euphoria of such high heat almost obliterates my above complaints.
Prince of Wales Pub, 106 East 25th Street, San Mateo-near the race track. T: 650.574.9723