While in my early twenties I spent a couple of years in England. I had a lot of fun and gained loads from the experience. One thing in particular I gained was a love for some fantastic food. Not British food, mind you. Traditional British food is unbelievably bland, especially to the American palette. I am referring to Indian cuisine.
It took but a week to become addicted to currys, kebabs, naan bread and the like. Being somewhat of a food fanatic I was in heavan. Each curry shop had slightly different variations on every dish, and with literelly hundreds of Indian restaurants in each city there was plenty of foodie fun to keep me occupied. Consequently I gained about 1 1/2 stone while overseas.
The Vindaloo curry is considered to be somewhat of a right of passage for foreigners. It was the hottest curry on most menus. Not to be taken lightly! I ate my first one without much trouble. It wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong. It was hot, but being born in New Orleans I have had equally hot Cajun dishes.
It wasn’t until close to the end of my time abroad that we learned of a curry, usually withheld from the menu, that was twice as hot as the dreaded Vindaloo. When we inquired as to the reason this dish, the Phaal Curry, wasn’t advertised on the menu the cook answered, “When white people order it, they don’t come back!”
That clinched it for me. I had to try this most potent of dishes. My flatmate, Andrew, hadn’t had his Vindaloo yet, so we took the challenge together. We got our curries and brought them to some friends’ flat who lived near by. We needed witnesses.
The Phaal curry was literally the hottest, most painful thing I have ever eaten. I’d like to think that I endured through half of it, but I really don’t recall. It was a fiery hell that consumed my body like acid from the stomach out; blurring my vision and causing fissures in my skull. It took several yogurt soaked pieces of naan to subdue the flames in my gut but the pain eventually subsided. At that point, both Andrew and I decided to end the night.
Early the next morning my eyes popped open with panic. Every alarm in my body was sounding. I bolted from my bed making a b-line for the loo only to find that the door was locked.
“Andrew, man!” I hurriedly pounded on the door. “I need to get in there!”
“I’m on the toilet. I’ll be out in a little bit.” I could tell from his tone that his curry didn’t set well either.
“Hurry up. I am dying out here!”
“I’m dying in here!”
Clenching every muscle in my body, I paced the living room on the balls of my feet while holding my breath. If I kept moving I could avert disaster. But how long was Andrew going to take? Not knowing increased the panic ten fold.
Gasping for air, I ran to the kitchen, grabbed the garbage bin and perched myself on top. I commenced to purged my body of the demonic poison; reliving the pain from the previous night. In-between my short Lamaze winces I repeated vows that I would never do this to my body again, much like a high schooler clutching the the toilet bowl after his first experience with alcohol.
Andrew didn’t exit the bathroom until I was already returning from emptying the bin. He told me that he was done, but to his surprise I replied that I didn’t need it anymore. He laughed pretty hard when I told him what had happened, especially when I added that we were going to need some new kitchen towels.