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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crowning Around / Chile de Infierno

We didn't get our act together in time for Kaleidoscope, maybe next weekend, but since we walked around Crown Center a bit before heading to the thrift store. It would be hard to find a more complete opposite, in terms of a retail experience.

I don't know why I'm such a sucker for fountain pens. They're beautiful, but someone with handwriting as godawful as mine really shouldn't even window shop at the pen store. What is the point of coveting something you can barely even use?

Mo asked for chocolate covered marshmallows at Chip's, and since it was my fault, for insisting on getting the chili going before we left, that she'd missed the promised Kaleidoscope session, I caved. Which meant I bought for Em and her friend, too. I've always been glad Mo favored the marshmallows because this joint sells by the pound and air doesn't weigh much.

Even so, I realized after the Salvation Army Thrift Store, that I'd paid less for a silk shirt than for a stick with three marshmallows and a thin coating of chocolate. A snack that costs as much as a silk shirt should at least be substantial enough to spoil your dinner, shouldn't it? Be, perhaps, too big to really eat?

Of course, the Salvation Army doesn't put on a show for you.

And the thrift store lacks a bubble elevator, I guess.

We got back and had tacos and chili for dinner.

My kids won't touch chili, even Wendy's chili, so I had thrown a couple of home grown habaneros into the crock pot along with some crushed kung paos. The heat wasn't nearly as intense as I thought it'd be, and there was something missing from the chili.

It wasn't until the next morning that I realized my omission: oregano. That combination of oregano and cumin is, to me, the essential flavor of chili.

If the chili didn't seem as hot as I anticipated, I made up for it by putting Mrs. Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa on a taco. I had it on eggs the other day and it gave me a flash back to my initiation into the Fraternidad del Fanáticos de Chile Infierno.

I'll pause for those who actually have some Spanish to get done laughing at that, no doubt, clumsy product of free online translation software.

We had a rusty looking bottle of Tabasco sauce in the fridge when I was growing up, I thin bought when my Grandpa, who died when I was seven, was still alive. I think he put it on eggs, nobody else in my family seemed to think it was a food product.I would have been ten or eleven years old, I think, when I asked if I could put some on a taco.

My Dad said sure but a little goes a long ways. I promptly drizzled eight or nine drops across a taco, at which point my Dad laughed and told me I didn't have to eat that. This at a table where my finicky brother often evoked the phrase, 'That's going to be the next thing you eat, young man.'

That first bite made me break out in a sweat. My eyes watered. And seeing the amused expression on Dad's face, I took another bite. No way I could admit how much I was suffering, and by the end of the taco, I felt really good.

Tabasco doesn't do it for me anymore, but Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa is a staple in my house (I always have it on hand, sometimes with other varieties to boot). This newest edition, with the infamous Bhut Jokali, is as close to too much heat as you can get without falling in. As with the habanero version, the flavor of the salsa is fantastic, but get a bit of the ghost pepper salsa on your lips (and licking the spoon, as I did, will produce this effect), you can feel it in your spine.

Corinna liked it, put a couple of big spoonfuls into her bowl of chili. I think she found it stimulating.

I called Mrs. Renfro's to ask if they had any information on the Scoville units of the ghost pepper version versus the habanero, and they don't. The girl I got on the phone went and asked the guy who came up with the recipe, and he said it wasn't 'that much hotter' than the habanero salsa because, 'We want you to be able to enjoy the whole jar.'

Which I guess means that there is plenty of room for someone to make a salsa that's even hotter by not showing such restraint with das Bhut. Though I guess if you want it much hotter than this stuff, you might as well use self-defense pepper spray as Binaca.

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