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May 23, 2008

Who can eat the hottest food and where can they find it?

hothothot.jpgGabe has just asked for our help, so get out your chili pepper rating system and let's get going:

I hope you can help me out with a little competition I am trying to organize for my friends. We recently got entangled in an argument about who could eat the hottest food. After much debate we agreed to a "Heat Off", a friendly competition to settle the issue and award bragging rights to the winner.

I am wondering if you could leverage your blog, which I enjoy reading often, and your faithful readers to open a topic and put together a list of the hottest food items this city has to offer. I've been thinking about it and it would be awesome if we could represent the spectrum of hot food around the world, starting in the American South-west, then Mexico and making our way towards Northern Africa, then the Middle East, passing through India and ending somewhere in South East Asia.

(Kim Hairston/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:43 AM | | Comments (21)


Bruce at San Sushi/Thai One On in Towson will be glad to discuss Scoville units with you.

I recommend the Carlyle Club on University Parkway near JHU. The item I recommend is not on the menu, one must ask for it- the spicy tuna. It is raw tuna seasoned with wasabi. You can specify how much wasabi. Good luck in your 'hot off'

The hottest food that I have ever had is at Thai Landing. We didn't ask for super crazy stunt hot, just very hot. This was sweating, panting, crying hot. If you want really hot Thai you almost have to beg then sometimes because it's way beyond what we can normally tolerate. Tell them you want it very hot, more hot than Americans like, make it hot for someone in Thailand. It will sneak up on you and gradually build up to a crescendo of masochism. Enjoy.

Go to Thai Arroy and ask them to make whatever dish you order there 'extra spicy.' It will make your back sweat.

I believe the 911 Wings at Cluck-U Chicken were invented specifically for contests/bets/dares like this.

Certainly no sane person would order them unless he/she had something to prove. How many takeout foods come with a waiver of liability that warns the diner to avoid touching eyes or genitalia after consumption?

I don't have hot foods to recommend, but I will suggest having plain yogurt available. Milk, if nothing else. When you hit "so hot, I give up on trying to out-macho my friends, oh, crud, I'm dying, I wish I were dead" level, dairy will cut the heat faster than anything else.

Not water. That just spreads it around.

They'll even make some wings that are even hotter than the 911 flavor at Cluck-U if you order ahead of time. Our fraternity used to have "kidnappings" where someone was kidnapped and taken to a secret location. Everyone else had to go on a scavenger hunt to get clues as to the location, and one of the stops on the scavenger hunt was to down 12 "special" wings from Cluck-U, after which you would get your next clue. I'm surprised my stomach still has a lining.

The term I use at Thai restaurants is "Native Thai." I used to travel sometimes with an Indian man and we would go to Indian and Thai restaurants together. Not for contests, but to enjoy good, spicy food.

I used to have a Garfield cartoon on my refrigerator where Jon and Garfield are having a pepper-eating contest. Garfield starts off with "Jalapeno;" Jon responds with "Cayenne;" Garfield ups the ante with "Habanero;" Jon holds up a yellow and purple striped thing and says "Peruvian Death Pepper." Last drawing shows Garfield saying "You win." and a frazzled. blackened Jon saying "Why do I feel like I lost?"

The Taco Y Loco Caliente is the hottest thing I have ever put in my mouth. It can be found at Carolina's Tex Mex Restaurant in Upper Fells Point. Plus, I'm a chili-head, this thing made my hair fall out.

In addition to milk or yogurt, bread works well too (I picked that up from a Hardy Boys book).

I have seen cans of spray whipped cream used at a hot sauce competition, by the judges. Just open wide (as if you aren't already) and shpritz away. Make sure it is real cream, though.

I'm going to blow your minds on this one. A bunch of us did comparisons of various products to see what was most effective at alleviating hot pepper mouth. The clear winner was hot tea. It sounds bad but it works best. Anything cold causes the tissue in your mouth, especially your spongy tongue, to contract and keep the burny stuff trapped. The hot beverage washes them away better.

Mythbusters (Discovery Channel) did this test to find the best antidote for hot food. As I recall, milk products won, vodka lost.

Owl Meet,
You are on to something there. Must be the tannins in the tea that helps cool the burn.

Specifically it was the (unadorned) hot green tea that Minato's serves. So putting on my amateur chemist chapeau ... green tea probably has less tannins than black tea but more polyphenols (antioxidants). Not sure what that means, but if they can scrub your blood of free radicals ... who knows?

OMG wrote: This is sweating, panting, crying hot.

The mind wanders ...

Thank you all for your comments! Everyone is getting really pumped up about our Heat Off. I'll make sure to report on the results and any surprise findings. Thanks again!

Rob del Piano: ¡Demasiado sexy!

Pumped at a Heat Off ... spell that carefully frat boys.

I am very happy that people have mention thai one on in towson...Order the Ka Prow...extra made my vision go white and face hurt.....and it was DELICIOUS

I have yet to find foods too spicy for me too eat. I add hot sauce to any wings I get, and yes, I've done the 911 wings at Cluck-U.

I have been putting cayenne pepper on most foods since I was a kid and I believe I've built up a tolerance over the years.

The only time I even come close to having an issue is when I put too much Wasabi (teaspoon size-no joke) on my piece of sushi.

I regularly make my own salsa and use 5 different hot sauces, including a habanero sauce.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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