Looking Red

I was discussing food with a visiting researcher. The discussion turned to curries from around the world. I am not an expert on curry. My experience is fairly limited compared to those from countries where curry is a way of life. The pride of many in the US concerning their “hot dish” or “casserole” pales when you listen to the curry critique of someone who has lived their whole life where each city and each region has its own special curry! In my cupboard there are several curries: a yellow curry from Thailand, a red curry from India, and a yellow Japanese curry. I have tried red, yellow, and green curries. I’ve had curried lamb, curried vegetables, pork curry, curried rice, curried eggs, chicken curry, beef curry, goat curry, and even curried shrimp. I like curry. However I am a Midwesterner and my palate is not so well developed that I can handle the very hot curries. I assume that the tolerance for the supremely spicy curry is developed over a lifetime – sort of like Iocaine powder. Perhaps you must be weaned onto it. All I know is that as I have gotten older I’ve become more and more sensitive to peppers and thus more sensitive to curry.

Thus this post. My friend, the visiting researcher, brought me a curry dish made with flat rice (Chura). I was warned that it was “a little spicy”. It was made with a special red curry particular to her home town of Mysore in India. It was very tasty. A least the first bite was. After my taste buds registered the flavor, my entire tongue, lips, throat and even my teeth burst into flames. I’m pretty sure my eyebrows were singed when I exhaled. I had attempted a second bite since everything had gone numb. However my body decided that one mouthful was sufficient. My face became hot. I broke out in a sweat. I turned red. The last time something like this happened I had a Malaysian dish that was spicy and I ended up with hives and fortunately was able to take some antihistamines and use prescription steroidal cream on my itchy spots and persistent rash. This time I just turned red – all over. We are talking about vine ripened Indiana tomato red. It looked like I had body paint on! I took a couple antihistamines and it had faded by the time I woke up from my nap. I had a little residual redness at the edge of my hairline and in my eyebrows. Sparky finished it off but I’m not sure I can handle anything more than a very mild sweet yellow curry… I’ve recovered completely but I can’t bear to tell her that it was too spicy.

16 thoughts on “Looking Red

  1. My mother loved curry — she grew up in Egypt and England. She couldn’t buy curry that was hot enough, so she made her own curry powder — too hot for me! Fortunately, when we were kids, she made “children’s curry,” which was simply gravy rather than the curry sauce!

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    1. Hehe! I suppose growing up in Egypt there would be lots of opportunity to develop a taste for curry – especially the hot ones. I used to make a very mild curry and we called it “Dragon Stew” It was spicy because you had to have a dragon breath into the pot!

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  2. My cousin took a Thai cooking class in Thailand and shared her culinary skill with me and my mid-western cousins. She made a family-sized pan of green chicken curry that was marvelous and I ate that curry for a week, as nobody else could take the heat. Growing up in So. California, I was exposed to some Mexican spicy foods but that doesn’t do much to prepare one for the curries of Asia.Coincidentally, I was eating a bowl of Trader Joe’s yellow jackfruit curry with jasmine rice while I read this. I could literally feel your pain.

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    1. A jackfruit curry sounds good – a little sweet and a little spicy. Of course you can’t control the heat unless you make it yourself… I hope your curry didn’t cause you any repercussions! Funny how Mexican spicy is completely different from curry spicy. I can do hotter curry than hotter mole sauce. I wonder why that is?

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  3. I grew up eating “hot” Italian sausage, one of my mother’s favourites. Having at least one parent who enjoyed spice made my own forays into heat a lot easier, but I draw the line at ghost peppers.

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    1. Ha! The ghost pepper is evil as are scorpion peppers. Son#2 tried to get people to eat some scorpion pepper cheese – fortunately no one wanted to try it. Just the smell was enough to cause your eyes to burn!

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  4. I know I’m in the minority, but I have to admit that I have never really understood the attraction of super spicy food. If all you can taste is the heat, how do you know the food is good? And what is the point of eating something that makes your mouth feel as if it is on fire? I know lots of people love spicy food, and that’s great….but I really don’t get it!

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    1. I don’t enjoy that kind of heat either – I think most of the folks who like it super spicy are of the XY variety. It is proven that men on average have fewer taste buds couple that with a macho bravado and you get pepper eating contests!

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