My family has a thing with heat. They really believe they can handle any pepper, any preparation, because they LOVE spicy food. Now this is something I have had to come to terms with in my life. Like when I was a baby and my parents would try me on salsa. Who needs Gerber, right? They would sneak heat into my food in the hopes of building a tolerance.
Now I had them for the first couple years and would turn my nose up at even the faintest detection of heat. However, as the years wore on their evil methods finally got to me and I learned not only to tolerate but also to love spice as well.
Which leads me to cooking for them. No matter how perfectly flavored my food may be–my brother will add hot sauce. This is becoming a trait for many of the people in my life–my boyfriend suckles Tapatio and I am buying quart size jars for him. Now, if you have an inflated sense of pride about your cooking, no matter how good the hot sauce, this gets under your skin. What my dish wasn’t good enough?!
I guess it gets deep under your skin and you grow to tolerate it, just like you did spicy foods…but then, every now and then you feel that ire.
So…I was cooking dinner and my Mother, my Father, and my Brother were all salivating over the smells of the chicken and the rice and the simmering sauce that were all being prepped for my enchiladas. Yum, Yum they were thinking. And I have to admit, I was very hungry too. So hungry that I kind of wanted to rush the preparation along and when I ran out of sauce after lining my pan and covering the edges of the enchiladas for baking, I had to improvise. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, I was humming contentedly as I perused through my Father’s bottles of hot sauce on the side of the refrigerator: Bite me, Sriracha hot sauce, Ring of Fire, Dave’s Insanity Sauce (now that sounded good).
So, in an effort to be a good daughter and feed my hungry family, I expedited the meal by finishing with a little packaged hot sauce. What’s the harm, right? Food in the oven, I called out to my family: “Dinner’s almost ready!”
Ten minutes later, my brother couldn’t wait and had to get a little peak in the oven. As he emerged with tears twinkling on his face–that should have been my first clue that something was awry. But like I said, we were hungry.
As the food had just finished, unable to wait any longer, I closed my eyes and plunged my mitted hands into the oven to reclaim my bounty. I plated my steaming food with caution and served with relish, first to my Mother, then my Father, then my Brother, reserving the smallest portion for myself. Then I waited.
My Father took the first bite, paused, and reached for his beer. My Mother watched me (I am her daughter and she has a nose for mischief). My brother, unaware of the glances around the table, tore in with flaming bravado. I think I smiled but it was hard to see as the air between us grew thick with the smoke billowing out from his nostrils. He chewed, swallowed, and calmly looked up at me. His fork in one hand, knife posed in the other, he stared straight and me and very simply remarked,
“I just want to punch you right now.”
Like the old west, the air was hot, and the faint whistle of a fight was still reverberating. But I was no fighter. I was just a simple girl trying to provide for her hard working family after a long day. So, I offered up the solution that I had so miraculously come up with for my own entree:
“Well, you just have to peel away the top and the rest is fine”
But like I said, my family LOVES heat. So my brother ate THE WHOLE THING, glaring at me, daggers in his eyes. I mean, when I said I topped with insanity sauce I may not have been fully honest about my generosity. I very lavishly spread the contents of an entire bottle of “insanity” sauce over the tops of these enchiladas.
My Brother must have eaten a third of the bottle.
So, now my family will still claim how much they love heat. They will still reach for hot sauce. But they will also respect their little chef.