At the time of this writing, 'groceries' are only 90% recommended by the epinions database. Clearly, we are a pretty tough crowd. But I suspect that the best way to win over the ten percent who have the unmitigated gall (and presumably the reptilian metabolism) to be against groceries is to spice up their dining habits.
Recommend this product?
The problem with spiciness, however, is that it is such a subjective subject (which is more politically correct than being an objective object). One person's hot is another person's mild. The marketing department at McIlhenny claims that when it comes to their Tabasco sauce, "A Dab'll Do Ya." But if a bartender were ever to hand me a bloody mary spiked with a single dab of Tabasco, I would weep for him. (Granted, I would do my weeping as I drank the bloody mary, but I certainly wouldn't pay for it.)
That "Dab'll Do Ya" expression is the rule rather than the exception. Hyperbole is the name of the game when it comes to hot sauces. As a lover of sauces, I used to make a point of sampling unusual local brands whenever I visited a new region of the country. I always went for the labels that were covered with flames and bright red letters. I was even--despite being a grown man--taken in by profanity. "Oooh," I reasoned, "if they actually use 'hell' in the name of this sauce, it must really be hot."
What I discovered was that the hotter a sauce's label makes the sauce out to be, the more mild the sauce is. I once studied the ingredients of a salsa for sale in a small market in New Orleans. The label featured a picture of Satan spitting the sauce out of his mouth as flames rose from his tongue. But there wasn't a single hot item in the jar. The sauce consisted of tomatoes and onions and garlic and capers. As I hate capers, it sounded awful to me, but it certainly didn't sound hot.
My rule of the inverse proportionality between a sauce's pretensions of spiciness and its ability to deliver had taken an axiomatic place in my consciousness one day when my wife and I ordered tacos at a little bar called Riprock's in Denton, Texas. We had had the tacos before and knew them to be white folks' tacos, but edible nevertheless. The shells were store-bought; the meat was a crumbled hamburger patty; the cheese was (predictably) Colby; and the lettuce wouldn't fit because there was entirely too much meat. The tacos were served with Mild Pace Picante Sauce--and you're better off doing without sauce entirely than consuming any sauce wimpy enough to ackowledge itself as 'mild.' (Oddly, the inverse proportionality rule does not apply to sauces that promote themselves as inoffensive.)
"Hey Tom," I said to the bartender, who was an all-around nice guy and brilliant player of NTN Trivia, "do you guys have any real hot sauces--anything with a bite?"
He returned with a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce. I looked at the label and rolled my eyes. "This stuff'll kill ya," Tom said. I shrugged. Tom was the one responsible for stocking the bar with the mild version of Pace Picante, so I disregarded him as completely as I disregarded the label on the bottle. I poured everything left in the bottle (which was about a third full) onto one of my tacos and started chomping nonchalantly. The taco was so overpacked with meat that the sauce was starting to drip over the sides and fall off, so I raced to gobble the whole thing before the sauce ended up on my plate. But the more violently I gobbled, the more the sauce started to slip. So I raced through the taco with a speed that frankly embarrassed Mrs. Sloucho--a speed that prevented me from coming to terms with what I was ingesting.
A huge glob of Dave's Insanity Sauce was running down the back of my right hand. And being a mannerless brute, I licked it off. As I did so, however, I noticed that my face was soaking wet. I wasn't simply sweating; I was sweating-all-of-a-sudden, if you take my meaning. I tried to smack my lips, but they weren't moist enough to smack. All of the moisture seemed to have evaporated from my mouth.
I couldn't feel my tongue.
Distressed, I breathed through my mouth in an effort to feel the air sliding over my tongue. To my infinite consternation, that did the trick. Believe me when I say I had been much better off not feeling my tongue. I expected to see Tom and Mrs. Sloucho coming at me with blankets in an effort to put me out, as I genuinely believed that I was spontaneously combusting. I suppose that on some intellectual level, I must have understood that the burning sensation was a chemical reaction and not the result of actual flames on my tongue. But the only part of my consciousness that I was aware of was convinced that I needed to douse my tongue, to put it out before the fire spread to the rest of me.
I was drinking Shiner Bock beer, a beer too precious for chugging. But I chugged mine nevertheless. Then I chugged my wife's drink (whatever it was). Then I poured myself another beer from my pitcher and chugged it. Then I tried--honestly, I tried--to pour yet another beer. But I couldn't wait for the beer to make its way from the pitcher to the glass. I poured the remainder of the pitcher directly down my gullet to no avail.
By that point, Mrs. Sloucho and Tom had returned to the table with two huge glasses of ice water, which I drank in a matter of seconds. And I would have kept drinking if I could, but I didn't have any more room, so I started sucking the ice cubes.
A few minutes later, I had to urinate. I didn't want to because I wasn't sure that a mouthful of ice would last me to the men's room and back. But the trip was absolutely necessary. I barely had time to unbutton my fly before my bladder took over.
It did not take over for long, however. At first, I felt the tremendous relief that comes when one begins to empty an overfull bladder. But two seconds later, I did something I hadn't done since childhood: I pinched off the stream. I had no choice but to pinch; it was an instinctive reaction to the searing pain that was roaring through my urethra. Little Sloucho was on fire. And he was on-fire-all-of-a-sudden, if you take my meaning. I had never experienced anything like it. While I have been slightly singed by spices on their way out, the singeing had only ever occurred in an entirely different theater of war. And the singeing had always only gestured faintly at the heat of the spiciness on its way in.
I simply didn't know that scoville units could make themselves felt in one's urethra. And I would like to go on record as saying that I don't entirely approve. I think God has some anatomical re-engineering to do to see to it that dilemmas such as the one I faced while pinching off my stream are not encountered by anyone ever again. I had to go, you see. But I couldn't face the pain. And I stood over the urinal for more than a minute, arguing with my cramping bladder. "Sorry guy," I said, "you just don't know how to hurt me as badly as the stuff that's inside me. You're going to have to figure out some other way to get rid of all that urine, 'coz it sure as hell ain't going through little Sloucho."
But my bladder was not without recourse. True, it couldn't inflict me with the same blinding wallop of pain that my urine was packing, but the cramps were pretty intense. And then there was the inevitability of observation. There are no stalls in the men's room at Riprock's, just a toilet and a trough. When folks come in and see you pinching off the little guy, well, they have a right to wonder what you're up to. My imagination sided with my bladder and started conjuring up all sorts of scenarios that wouldn't have been any too satisfying for my ego. So I relented.
I loosened my stranglehold and danced an incredibly frenetic little jig as what seemed like gallons of liquid misery poured through me.
I returned to my table a broken shell of a man with a new found respect for hot sauces. Dave's Insanity Sauce is every bit as insane a substance as the label would have you believe. I give it five stars not because I ever want to see it again, but because I feel compelled to encourage truth in advertising.
This is my contribution to The Grocery Write Off hosted by the insanely attractive prfstars and the unrelentingly sexy nathsmom. If you think lipstick lesbianism is hot, let these gals give you a taste of emoticon lust. It'll put a :^) on your face. Take a look at our home page
for links to all the reviews as they come in. The participants in this write-off are AggieBrett, Elvisdo, Hard_to_Please, JKKelley, Jsaunt, Kellydeal, Lobstergirl, Nathsmom, PrfStars, Repulsemonkey, Sloucho, Sordid-1, Sundogg99, Tlimjoco, and 29th_Candidate.
P.S. Most of the contributions to this write off will be posted at 7 p.m. PST. Unfortunately, Sloucho will be spending the entire evening at a studio making terrible music with the members of Philadelphia's least talented band: Schmok. If you ever encounter any of our MP3's on the net, be sure to observe that my lousy drumming lends the band an important kind of credibility. (Don't try to specify which kind of credibility; it sounds better if you're vague.)
P.P.S. Although jkkelley is participating in this write off, I urge you to avoid his entry. I'm sure it will be charming and funny (since everything he writes is charming and funny), but I think it's important for our little community to put this punk in his place. He joined epinions a full two months after I did. And two months of cyber time translates to like a million-jillion years in real time. He should still be some kind of peon just finding his niche, but his meteoric rise appears to be unstoppable. Even though I was here a full sixty days before Mr. Parrotfez, this is my first opportunity to participate in a write off with the undisputed cool kids of epinions. I want to be delighted to be on the same playground as sordid-1, nathsmom, lobstergirl, hard_to_please, and 29th_Candidate, but I look over and see jkkelley on the seesaw with prfstars and I can't help becoming bitter. If ever a man was in need of a comeuppance . . .
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