Getting beat at habanero burger eating snuck up on me. Perhaps I haven't had one in too long? It's been a few months, so perhaps. A college professor-younger fellow!-beat me last night at the Prince of Wales Pub. It was Ben Alamar's first habanero burger, and he had been "training his taste buds all week."
Our spouses both find us loony for searching out fiery foods, and joked
about riding home from the pub together, so we could (presumably)
suffer in a separate car. Oscar warned Ben to not eat the World's Hottest burger, to which he emailed back, "In the words of Sledge Hammer, 'Trust me... I know what I'm doing.' " I didn't ask strategy, but probably should have shown a wee bit of interest. His wife tells me he can drink hot sauce "by the straw" and he confirms a bottle of the stuff was always present growing up. His Dad adored eating hot foods, and Ben learned at a young age how to do the same.
When the burgers were ready, I ate some thick cut french fries first. I've found that waiting to eat the fries during or after the habanero burger consumption will be near impossible, because the mouth becomes too hot, overworked, and somewhat deadened. Ben dug in to his burger right away. I kept mulling over my fries, and ate half the batch, with ketchup. Finally, I took a bite. My eyes filled with tears and I began to feel warm all over. This was hotter than I remembered!
"Whew!" I said, slightly panicked, "this is... a... HOT batch!" Ben was halfway through his burger. What was this? He wasn't even sweating and he had on a long sleeve shirt. I was down to a t-shirt after removing a long sleeve shirt layer before eating. Ben looked too cool and calm, and I was slightly jealous. Oscar started going on about Ben's cool state, and was eyeing me somewhat doubtfully. I kept eating, and my lips, tongue, and throat had a strong, rising heat. I could feel sweat in my arm pits, and scolded myself for forgetting to bring anti-perspirant to the pool earlier that day. Not the day to skip that personal hygiene step!
Ben had stopped talking altogether. He drank beer between bites, and ate some fries. He was a good eight bites ahead of me, and I noticed his bites were huge. It seemed he wanted to work his way through the burger without stopping, and the bigger the bite, the closer he was to his goal. I was mopping sweat off my brow when Oscar decided if Ben could do it, so could he.
"One bite will be too much for you!" I warned.
He went for it and could not get over how hot the burger was. His hands grabbed the closest beer (mine!) and he gulped the rest down. Napkins were pulled out of the dispenser rapidly so he could wipe the ever increasing sweat rivers off his face. We were both sweaty animals, and Ben remained the cool customer, finished with his burger while I continued. Ben had a smile on his face, and seemed happy.
Oscar suffered a stomach ache later in the night from the one potent bite. He wondered, "How can you not be in pain?" to which I shrugged. The worst was behind me, but I was pensive. My body did eventually cool down, but as I was going to sleep my lips and fingers still felt warm and tingly. I held the habanero burger in my hands for too long and didn't eat quick enough. That must be it, I thought. Strength training as a Habanero Burger Eater must be more frequent. I don't want to get beat (by a younger man, especially!) again. Enduring hot and spicy foods is one thing I know I can excel at, but it will take practice.