I've decided that my culinary upbringing has warped my taste buds and palette and has rendered me a pariah in the right-of-center professional world I spend most of my time in nowadays.
You see, barring a few school lunches and pizza birthday parties, I spent the first seventeen years of my life eating Indian food. The combination of being a vegetarian and being raised in a household where spaghetti and lo mein were deemed identical twins had really limited the development of my palette. My grandma boasts that my first solid food was hot pepper chutney; I cringe at the thought of a little baby being offered something that high on the Scoville Meter. Indian food, while delicious, isn't exactly the best example of subleties in cooking. The flavors hit you instantaneously. The spices are strong (dare I say pungent?) , the creamy curries and cheeses are indulgent, and if you've ever had gulab jamun or any other indian sweet, you'll soon realize that we don't skimp on the sugar either. No high fructose corn syrup here.
Once college came along, I was introduced to a whole new world of flavors. I tasted my first serving of mashed potatoes, stuffing and other traditional fare. The weird thing about it was that despite being able to taste the nuances in tastes and flavors in all of these foods, I couldn't get myself to appreciate it. My id was pushing me towards dousing everything in tabasco sauce or crushed red peppers. It was uncontrollable. I wouldn't stop until those beautiful tears of hot-sauce induced joy were running down my cheeks, my mouth burning. My favorite beer was a Corona with Lime, not as much for the beer than for the delectable citric acidy goodness of the lime. Instead of walking in on me having sex or worse, my freshman roommate once opened the door to find me taking shots of buffalo sauce. Now that's when I knew I had hit rock bottom.
Since then I've worked to regulate my urges for spicy food. I only ask Boloco for extra hot sauce on the side every other order. I try to participate with co-workers when we order dinner, choosing a baked potato (despite secretly longing for the extra spicy burrito at Cactus Club). I've come to the realization that spicy food, like anything, is an addiction. It's part genetic, part environment, and part will power. And you know what? I'm fine with that. And to that end, I WILL go to Brick Lane in NYC and I WILL eat their super hot curry and I want all of you to be there!!