Everyone in our lil' circle can verify that Ilaiy likes his food spicy. I mean HOT. He cooks nothing that doesn't have green chilies, thai chilis, dried red pepper, and red pepper powder in it. Not 1 of the 4—ALL FOUR. I've had to stand in the hallway of his apartment to catch my breath on more than one occasion. I'm pretty sure I've developed an immunity to pepper spray as a result of knowing him—hey! Let's find out!
When we eat out, "make it HOT" is a standard request, and more often than not, I cringe when he calls the poor waiter back, and politely tells them, "this isn't hot." They commence to finding pepper and oils and anything with lava in it, while he declares, "still not hot" until I get fed up and tell him to knock it off. "They've adjusted their cuisine for the midwestern palate, dahlink. Give 'em a break, it's as hot as they got."
A couple weeks ago, we trekked up to Chicago for some last minute shopping. After walking all day, I dragged him into Heaven on Seven for a bloody mary. He ordered coffee, we sat at the bar and split a bowl of gumbo.
Here's a pic of the owner of Heaven on Seven, Jimmy Bannos (that I nabbed from their website). Please note the number of bottles in the background. Those are hot sauces.
Our gumbo was served with a six-pack of sauces on the side. At Ilaiy's request, the bartender pointed out the hottest of the lot. Par for the course, Ilaiy called him back, "this isn't hot." "Great," I was thinking, "one billion bottles of sauce in this place, and Ilaiy is going to declare each and every one of them wussy-hot."
But no. The bartender, obviously thinking, "I'm going to shut thus mo-fo up" pulled a secret weapon from wizard-y, apothecary-esque case. A little black bottle. When he removed the lid it POOF'ed, and a red cloud flew over our heads. "THIS is hot," he told Ilaiy. I like hot sauce myself, but even I knew to pass on this one. Be afraid, be very afraid.
He gave Ilaiy a coffee stirrer and a few saltine crackers, warning him not to screw up our gumbo until he tasted it. Ilaiy laughed: HA! He used the stick to spread the black—yes! black!—tarlike sauce across a cracker and moved to pop it in his mouth. The bartender caught his wrist, "No." He opened another cracker, touched the tip of it onto the cracker Ilaiy had prepared. "Now."
Ilaiy ate the second cracker.
"Not hot." he said. Proudly, I think.
The bartender smiled.
Ilaiy's next question was "Can I get a glass of water?"
And then, "this IS hot, oh, it is!" Glug, glug, glug, glasses of water were being down one after another. He was out of his freakin mind trying to dissipate the heat. He poured every packet of sugar down his throat. He pulled off his glasses and wiped his eyes. Sweat poured down his face, and he proclaimed his tongue completely numb, and a hole burned through his cheek where he'd accidentally touched the hot sauce to his face.
I present to you: The Hot Sauce That Put Ilaiy Under The Table:
I did some research on The Final Answer.
First of all, the heat in a pepper is measured by "Scoville Units," a scale developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. According to chemsoc.org,
The original Scoville test asked a panel of tasters to state when an increasingly dilute solution of the pepper no longer burned the mouth. Roughly one part per million of chilli 'heat' rates as 1.5 Scoville units.Whatever. Here's a more comprehensive comparison:
A jalapeño pepper has 5000 scoville units.
A habañero, the hottest available pepper, has 300,000 scoville units.
DaBomb: The Final Answer has 1,500,000 scoville unites.
The recipes advise using one drop off of a toothpick to flaver an entire meal. 2 ounces of the stuff will run you about $40. I calculated that to be $2560.00/gallon.
That's a lot of money for a food product in which "Danger" and "Warning" are words used in the advertisement. No wonder they named the stuff after "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" They will be, after selling 400 gallons.
In the end, we didn't buy it. We left the restaurant with Ilaiy still sweating buckets, and exclaiming "That was great!" as if he'd just gone bungee-jumping.
He won't admit it, but I suspect the real Final Answer hit him the next morning.