I should've read the "Wall of Flame" website devoted to the Habanero Hamburger served at the Prince of Wales Pub before eating one, rather than the sweat filled hours that followed. Then I would've known what to expect. Tips like: the habanero's fire may travel through the body for many hours or even days later.... Or that I should "lay in a tub all weekend," and that it "burns more coming out than going in."
Because I am a lifelong fiery foods eater, I hoped I could survive the Habanero Hamburger without having to seek solace in a bathtub. Oscar had other ideas. He thought our weekend plans to relax in Monterey would be ruined, that I'd turn into "Mrs. S," which is short for "Mrs. Stinky." He wondered how we'd be able to enjoy our hotel room if I was running to the bathroom every few minutes with a burning butt. These fears stem from what is known as the NYC noodle incident of this year, which had me laying on the floor of our hotel bathroom for one of the most draining and painful nights of my life, while Oscar hid in our room.
Half a day after eating the Habanero Hamburger, I did have some warmth in my tummy, but wasn't uncomfortable or gassy. I ate fish and chips for lunch on Saturday to further coat my system, wondering if I was going to break into a sweat anytime soon. That night, we arrived at our friend Amy Alamar's thirtieth birthday party, where I immediately sought out some fellow fire eaters, to brag about Friday's burger. The fellows were excited to try the burger on their own, and wanted full details, which I liberally and somewhat dramatically supplied. Their eyes popped as I described the burger's topping, "habaneros, horseradish, and chili oil," adding that I was proud to not "need one of the woosy ice cream bars they sell, afterward."
The birthday dinner at the Monterey Plaza Hotel was rich and delicious. I smirked a little to myself, as I thought about how easy the Habanero Hamburger was turning out to be. I ate rolls with sweet butter, lobster & crab ravioli in a cream sauce, roasted tomato soup, and a perfect medium rare petite filet with asparagus and a triangle of creamy potatoes. The Alamar/Blum/Cooper families know their beef, and like it bloody. Triumph tasted good.
A mere hour later, I began to lose the battle. Tiny soldiers took possession of my ribs and stomach. "I did this to myself," I whispered to my friend, Jen. I could barely breathe, and took three trips to the loo. Standing outside in the cold fresh air helped, where I halfway considered jumping one story into the cold, dark water, to swim the discomfort away.
Back at our table, Oscar shook his head a few times, in a silent, "I told you so," kind of way. Talking and sitting with our friends remained painful and uncomfortable, and I downed a bottle of sparkling water. I even took one more trip to the bathroom, for some satisfactory belches in a stall. Under normal circumstances, I am revolted by belches and burps, and never do it. Pain forced me to succumb to the gas.
After saying our goodbyes, Oscar and I walked slowly to our room, where I ripped my dress off to lay under the covers, naked. He supplied more water for me to drink. We watched TV together, as I tried taking bigger breaths. It took a half hour to be able to breathe comfortably again, and the little soldiers stopped stabbing me in the ribs with their bayonets. Oscar's arms usually offer me comfort, but I was grumpy and groaned, "Unhhhh," when he tried hugging me. I didn't tell him, but he was wrong on one thing. "Mrs. S" did not make an appearance at all. We both slept well in our cozy hotel room, and the Habanero Hamburger didn't cause me any more pain.
Would I eat the spicy, hellish combo again? Maybe. I would love to share the eating experience with other fiery foods eaters, but must remember the past. I shudder to think of having those little soldiers in my system again.