July 21, 2004


I tried a microdot of this once. On an oyster. A friend had given me the substance on account of the name.

Nearly killed me.

I’m no heat judge -- just ask Ken Layne, who tried to murder me last year in Reno with evasively-named "hot carrots" -- so I gave some of the frightening liquid to a British friend familiar with the very hottest of curries. He reported that an entire meal was subsequently weaponised by a single drop. Another friend, Hong Kong Chinese and able to eat actual flames, was led home in tears by his wife after tasting an amount so tiny as to be undetectable.

So. Hot sauces. Your most appalling experiences, please.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 21, 2004 06:25 AM

Speaking of the Jersey Shore, there used to be a joint in Belmar that sold that stuff. New Yorkers who thought they were tough would come in and sample the wares, only to leave in sweaty, weeping moaning heaps.

Of course I tried some. Brought it home, wife cooks up some salsa and we eat. Seconds later: sweat and tears erupt like lava. Mouth expands to three times its usually large size. The company thinks tis is really funny until the farts. Lots and lots of reeking, hovering methane explosions.

It was the dead of winter. All the windows were closed. The only way out was in the car owned by the guy who was passed out cold on the couch. Great night, all in all.

Posted by: gary at July 21, 2004 at 06:38 AM

Dave's Insanity Hot Sauce gets my vote for 'most weaponized', tho that 6am sauce at the Blair's page frightens me...

Just remember, a glass of milk or a spoon of sugar to douse (or mitigte) the fire. Assuming you have any taste buds left.

Posted by: Frej Krook at July 21, 2004 at 06:39 AM

Theres a fine line between using hot sauce to spice up a dish and putting mace in your food.

its like using drano as a mouthwash.

Posted by: Frank Martin at July 21, 2004 at 06:47 AM

What Frank said. As a lifelong Texan with significant Lousiana connections, I can tell you that most of these 'novelty' sauces have little or no flavor beyond a simple wallop of capsicum. (Although I thought I detected metal savings in one recently.) That's not what it's really all about, folks.

The best red sauce in the world, btw, is Bruce Food Company's (no relation!) Lousiana Gold. Rather hard to find in stores more than thirty miles from New Iberia, but available through the Web. The real preference of Cajunoisseurs.

Posted by: Bruce at July 21, 2004 at 06:50 AM

Blair's Death Sauce is quite good, but anything to the right of Sudden Death is too painful to be eaten.

I remember when my brother-in-law and myself went to a BBQ rib festival and he got "nuclear ribs". I tried a dot of sauce and it lit my mouth up. He saved them until he got home.

He related that he ate the 2 rib sampler in the evening and was in extreme pain. He tried eating popsicles, drinking water, beer and milk, but nothing except time put out the fire.

The next day around noon he had to take a dump. Well, garbage in-garbage out, as they say. When the nuclear dump occurred he said it felt like his rear was a flame thrower. And then he thought to himself, "I wish I hadn't eaten ALL of the popsicles."

Posted by: JohnO at July 21, 2004 at 06:51 AM

Pain Is Good, Batch #37, is a personal favorite.

Posted by: Amy at July 21, 2004 at 06:52 AM

I went to a Mexican restaurant outside San Antonio, Texas a few years back. This was not an Americanized restaurant, or a TexMex restaurant, or one of those despicable chains. This was a restaurant by, for, and about actual Mexicans and their wonderful cuisine. I knew it was going to be good when we arrived to find the parking lot full of contractors' pickups. Anytime every painter, sheetrocker, and electrician in town eats lunch there, you can bet it's cheap and tasty.

There were a half dozen items on the menu containing goat, no such thing as hard taco shells, completely unidentifiable peppers and such on every plate, etc. We were the only American caucasians there, but the record player didn't skip when we entered. Nice folks, every one.

Anyway, they brought us an appetizer tray of napolitas (cactus), some pickled veggies of some sort, and some brownish hot sauce. I speak no Spanish and neither did my clients, so we pretty much ordered by pointing and watching what everyone else was eating. By the time the food came, I was ready to chow. So, my stewed chicken with soft tortillas and beans got a liberal sprinkling of the unlabeled brown hot sauce. I was thinking chipotle, my favorite, but this turned out to be either A) an extremely unstable isotope used in industrial etching applications or B) plain old battery acid.

No butter, milk, or sugar in sight. I tried to remain calm while the sweat poured into my eyes and the room tilted floorward. I staggered to the men's room and eventually found relief by drawing a sink of cold water, dunking my head in it, and blowing bubbles until my vision returned and my thoughts organized themselves. A glance in the mirror revealed a scarlet rash from my shirt collar to my left temple, and a swollen lip. Hiliarious, judging by the amused grins on the patrons' faces as I returned to my table.

Damn, that was a good lunch.

Posted by: Rob at July 21, 2004 at 06:56 AM

I received a bottle of "scorned woman" hot sauce, oddly eneough from a now ex girlfriend. I would put a couple of drops in a pot of stew. My step dad come over and unwisely applied a couple of dashes to a bowl of leftovers and spent the rest of the night in pain with lots of tears and sweat on his bright red face

Posted by: Timmsh at July 21, 2004 at 06:57 AM

Two words - Scotch Bonnet

...What the devil himself probably craps.

Posted by: Rtfm at July 21, 2004 at 06:58 AM

I have "Possible Side Effects".
You need to be cautious, just a little goes a long way, but nice on nearly anything. On Chinese takeout noodles its great.

Posted by: luisalegria at July 21, 2004 at 07:05 AM

"Hot sauces" and "appalling" in the same sentence? I don't understand. What's so bad about blasting a layer or two of mucous membrane to bits every now and then? Cleans you out.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 21, 2004 at 07:08 AM

I'm always fascinated by the wierd, strutting bravado of hot sauce machismo, or bizarre debates on the preferred bottled brand of spicy vinegar (aka hot sauce).

The final word is - if you (or the restaraunt) are not making it yourself, it's probably shit. Also, it's about flavor, not heat.

Finally, fresh pico de gallo is better than any hot sauce and will make good food better and even non-food pretty good.

Posted by: rds at July 21, 2004 at 07:12 AM

I attended the opening of a hot sauce store some years back. They were offering free tasting of any sauce in the store, and had a bunch of bottles set up with chips and small pieces of bread.

I tried a few, but couldn't find any Endorphin Rush (which had recently been rated hotter than Dave's Insanity) on the counter. I asked the guy about it, and he said that he'd let me try it, but to be careful. They'd had the bottle out earlier, and someone put too much onto his chip. When they warned him, he said that he could handle it. He couldn't. He collapsed to the floor, and the store staff had to call an ambulance.

I thought it was pretty hot, but I didn't like the flavor - there was a very acrid aftertaste. My favorite that day was Mrs. Dog's Seriously Hot Sauce, and there's a Panamanian-style habanero sauce made in Aurora, Colorado that I haven't been able to find for a couple years that was really good.

The heat is important, but you've GOT to have the flavor, first.

Posted by: wheels at July 21, 2004 at 07:29 AM

rds, its not bravura (well maybe it is for some), it's substance abuse and addiction. I have found over the years I jones for harder and harder chilicrank to smack me in the head the way I like it.

yes flavour is good. flavour and heat is better!

haven't resorted to wasabi instead of vegemite on toast for breakfast, but can't rule it out some day in the future I guess.

or maybe wasabi and vegemite... hmm....

Posted by: mister z at July 21, 2004 at 07:30 AM

I have a bottle of something call Da Bomb--wow, powerful stuff. All you need is to stick a toothpick in and rub the toothpick in your food. After using this you need to wash your hands before you pee, if you know what I mean.
We had company once and the men didn't believe my warnings about how hot the stuff was. They put too much on their and both doofuses rubbed their eyes. I'm only glad they didn't sue.

Posted by: Tim Plett at July 21, 2004 at 07:44 AM

I cook a delightful jerk chicken, where I generally use about 3 scotch bonnet/habenaro peppers for a batch of about 12 chicken breasts.

Now, habenaros -- which tip the scales at something like 100,000 scoville units -- should be handled with caution and surgical gloves, and never allowed to touch any sensitive part of the human anatomy. Well, one day, I was working with these peppers without gloves, and put the chicken aside to marinate. And then sat down in front of the tube to watch the game and drink a beer while waiting for my guests.

A few moments later, the Al Bundy in all of us got the better of me . . .

Holy. Living. Hell.

Posted by: Andrew at July 21, 2004 at 07:46 AM

My husband and I picked a peck of pretty peppers from the garden a few years ago. The glossy little orange fruit looked delectable, and we cut up a few for a homemade salsa. We never got to the salsa. Hours later our hands were still in bowls of icewater, and that's how we attempted to sleep, puffy lips, swollen eyes and all.

Next day I pulled up the pretty pepper plants, potted them, and gave them to a neighbor who isn't very nice.

Posted by: good Christian at July 21, 2004 at 07:58 AM

I recall the term "microdot" was once-upon-a-time used to describe a particular "brand" of LSD. My first impression of what you tried was quite a bit different that what I soon learned....

Posted by: ian at July 21, 2004 at 08:05 AM

Elvis, as we all know, suffered from epic constipation. It probably killed him - he was bearing down, and something popped. Hence I call the rail in the handicapped stalls "The Elvis Bar," since you can just imagine the King holding it tight as he attempts another run at it. But you'd also need the Elvis Bar to steady yourself against an imminent detonation, right? So when I attend a restaurant noted for hot food I check to see if the Elvis Bar is loose, or jiggles a bit. If it's been well-used, I order everything medium.

Before I figured this out I suffered a Thai meal in Scottsdale so terrifyingly hot I just wanted to stand up and let it burn down through the decks like Alien's blood. I have no idea what they used. A pepper of some sort, I expect.

Posted by: Lileks at July 21, 2004 at 08:11 AM

Bah! Flavor snobs. I have gone beyond mere sauce: now I prefer to simply swallow a few lit matches, drink a quart of gasoline, and then eat a bowl of iron shavings. (A lady's got to have her iron.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 21, 2004 at 08:12 AM

Mm. It's interesting to see the taste vs heat comments. Those on the taste side of the issue have apparently never experienced the endorphin rush that sufficently hot peppers cause. It's not about taste, folks, it's about unleashing your brain's secret stash of biological crack.

If any of are in the vicinity of Seattle, WA, USA, and feel the need, the place to get it is Dixie's BBQ in Bellevue.


The truly hot stuff is not given with the meal- The Man walks around every so often and offers it to the curious, the bold, and the addicted. Highly recommended.

Posted by: rosignol at July 21, 2004 at 08:16 AM

A hot food story:
Back around 1965, I shared an office in a chemical plant with two other engineers, Saad, who was from Syria, and Bob, who was Jewish. We all got along very well. We were eating lunch one day in the office, and Bob and Saad were eating little green home-pickled peppers from a jar on the desk. They invited me to try one, and I asked, "Are they very hot?" "No, not really." So I popped one into my mouth, and sat there in pain, with tears running down my cheeks. They laughed, and Bob said, "Ernie, never ask a Hungarian Jew or a Syrian Arab if something is hot."

Posted by: Ernie G at July 21, 2004 at 08:17 AM

HOO BOY! Now we've got the WMDs! Weapons of MOUTH Destruction!

Posted by: Mary J at July 21, 2004 at 08:25 AM

mister z:
For you, it clearly isn't about crowing, but I run across it quite a bit. It seem some people would eat anything that is hot regardless of the flavor.

Like you, I like spicy and hot and flavorful. I even grow my own jalopenas for my homemade pico de gallo. Damn, I wish I had some now.

Posted by: rds at July 21, 2004 at 08:27 AM

These two are good for the label design, I can't vouch for the taste.



I'm more of a taste than heat guy. Tabasco is tolerable heatwise, but I think the flavor is awful. Which sucks because you get a teeny bottle of it in every MRE, and MRE's desperately need a flavor boost. (The little bottles are areally cool though)

I'm a big fan of the "rooster" sauce. I don't know what it's called, but it's thai and has a rooster on the bottle.

Posted by: Kevin at July 21, 2004 at 08:27 AM

"strutting bravado of hot sauce machismo...."

Back in the Eighties, I heard a story from my favorite "Mexican" bar/restaurant. (Mancha's; Birmingham, Alabama) They used to keep a small basket of peppers on the bar for decoration and display. Some dipstick came in one day, saw the peppers and started bragging to his girlfriend about how he could eat anything.

Well, he popped one of the peppers into his mouth, whole, and bit down. They say his eyes rolled back into his head and he fell backwards off his stool onto the floor. An ambulance ended up being called.

I don't claim it's the hottest or best, but my favorite hot-hot is D.L. Jardine's Blazin' Saddle red sauce. It claims up to 285,000 scoville units. Can't eat it too often, but whew!!

Posted by: mike hollihan at July 21, 2004 at 08:41 AM

As Rosignol states, if you're in the Seattle area Dixie's is the place for Culinary pain / pleasure (as well as a heapin' helping of verbal abuse if you're lucky).

I posted a more detailed report of my encounter with "The Man" on my old blog. I would describe it as a spiritual experience...

Posted by: Captain Mojo at July 21, 2004 at 08:45 AM

Don't forget the Guatemalan Insanity peppers Homer ate, causing him to go temporarily more insane than usual

Posted by: Kevin at July 21, 2004 at 08:47 AM

Ok, not altogether that hot, but for sheer flavor, I am a big fan of the Evil Rooster Hot Sauce, aka Huy Fong Food's Sriracha, although it can acquire some heat when used a half cup at a time in BBQ sauce.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 21, 2004 at 08:49 AM

Lileks: Thai peppers are right up there with habaneros. Thai restaurants soak 'em in vinegar to concentrate the heat, then eat 'em in their food while laughing (quietly, in the kitchen) at those of us who try Thai food "the way they like it."

Andrea: nobody does it like Daffy Duck in Show Biz Bugs. "First, I drink a generous portion of gasoline. Next, some nitro-glycerine. A goodly amount of gunpowder. Some Uranium 238. Shake well. Strike an ordinary match (Girls, you'd better hold onto your boyfriends). Swallow the match, and presto!"

Me, I agree with the other guy -- it's about the flavor more than the heat. Give me some "Dat'l Do It" sauce, and I'm a happy guy.

Posted by: Paul H at July 21, 2004 at 08:50 AM

There's hot and there's insane. I've eaten scoth bonnet peppers, habeneros, Chinese peppers, and Thai peppers, but I refuse to touch the concentrated capsicum extracts, although I do enjoy the names they have -- my favorite is Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally. You can build up a tolerance, but like everything else, it has to be earned.

I have a friend who claimed he hallucinated in Amsterdam because the food he had in a Thai restaurant there was so hot. I believe him.

Posted by: charles austin at July 21, 2004 at 09:06 AM


Someone else has suffered the same fate. I have some of this stuff in my fridge and when my friends come over I always break it out as a party gift. Not joking, if you just dip the tip of a spoon in this stuff, it'll heat 4lbs of Chili to almost unbearable fire. A tip of a toothpick in your bowl of chili is also unbearable. This all sounds exaggerated, but I have watched many of my friends go down crying when they didn't believe. They now have "Da Bomb: Final answer" Which is supposed to be over a million scovilles. Haven't tried it yet, it costs over 20 bucks for a 2oz bottle. I beg someone to try this stuff and post a detailed review. Here's the url:

Posted by: scherz at July 21, 2004 at 09:11 AM

More a hot food story than a hot sauce story. I was travelling in India several years back and ventured into a deserted restaurant in a small village. There was no-one else in there. The waiter asked me if I liked my food hot with a maniacal glint in his eye. Of course I said yes (maybe too eagerly). The result was a vegetable curry. Very very hot. The waiter, the chef and some kids watched me eat the whole thing waiting for me to die. I was in India for 1 month, ate six times a day, minimum, and lost 15 pounds. My digestive system took four months to recover. Great place!

Posted by: Andy at July 21, 2004 at 09:15 AM

Jeez , I thought "Daves Ultimate Insanity" was bad at 250k scoviles. That stuff is 450k.

We keep a bottle of Daves around here at work as sort of an initiation. One drop on a cracker.

It burns going in... It burns going out....

Posted by: CujoQuarrel at July 21, 2004 at 09:32 AM

Well, I'm pretty much immune to hot sauces. Love them though, each and every one. Dave's Insanity, no problem. Endorphin Rush, damn hot but no problem. A place in Rochester MN makes hot wings with whatever sauce you want. I asked them to try to kill me. They used Endorphin Rush, probably half a bottle. Wasn't phased (well, much), and got the wings and a beer for free. BTW, that stuff tastes pretty awful.

However, habanero peppers are always unique and you can get a batch of really hot ones. In Dallas one evening I was at an authetic Mexican joint and, again, asked them to kill me. The waiter came out with a green puree' of habanero peppers, maybe two cups worth, in a large bowl. He said if I ate it I would indeed be killed. To death. About the time I was finishing off the last of it (used it for dip, sauce for my burrito, etc.) the entire kitchen was watching. I could tell they were impressed/feeling sorry for me/worried/amazed.

Later that night, at about 3AM, I had to whiz. Oh. My. God. It burns! IT BURNS! OH FOR ALL THAT'S GOOD AND RIGHT IT BURNS SO BAD!

Ah, I love spicy food. And the sadistic boy that I am, that night is looked back on in fondness.

Did I mention I once made a batch of chili using 250 habos? It was hot too.

Posted by: Brent at July 21, 2004 at 09:38 AM

I remember a meal that was not only very hot (as in hotter than almost anything else I have seen) it was also steaming - the combination made it painful to approach the meal let alone eat it.

Posted by: Scottie at July 21, 2004 at 09:44 AM

Vinegar kills the heat of chilies. At the Austin Fiery Foods Festival, one of the vendors had an alleged salsa that I watched him prepare: finely chopped green habanero peppers, a dash of salt, and a drop of vinegar, "to take the edge off". He mixed it with a ceramic spoon, because metal wouldn't handle it.

It was a direct challenge. The stuff pretty much burned through my tongue and mouth, and dropped out of a newly burned hole in my lower jaw. They had a cow there for fresh milk to douse the flames.

Judicial Flavors makes lovely salsas and hot sauces.

Posted by: Gopi at July 21, 2004 at 09:47 AM

1. One Fourth of July on an Army post in what was then West Germany: The Korean wives decided to try their hand at making salsa for the picnic. They used those little Thai peppers. Being a Texan, I had eaten peppery food all my life and thought "no big deal". I thought my mouth (and my mucous membranes, and my esophagus, and my digestive tract as a whole) would never heal. With salsa like that, who needs fireworks?

2. Not exactly sauce-related, but two years ago at the buffet in the Las Vegas Rio: the food service people put the wasabi a little too close to the Mexican food section of the buffet. We all thought it was guacamole.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 21, 2004 at 10:08 AM

I drank a shot glass full of Tabasco once on a dare. That was bad (although I won $60). My throat swelled up and I thought I was going to spew (which would have been worse coming up than going down). I held it in though, and paid the price next morning. One of the hottest things I've ever eaten is British Army Compo Ration curry, known affectionately as 'Ringstinger Curry'. I'm definitely more on the flavour side of the taste vs. heat argument. I used to live in Bradford in the north of England which is Curry Central. I learnt to appreciate the subtleties a bit more and so I'm not so interested in things that are just hot for the sake of it. I like Iguana XXXXX sauce (it's made here in Costa Rica), and a bit of Chipotle in a salsa is great. For my Buffalo sauce I just use Frank's Red Hot with a good dollop of Tabasco Habañero (and butter, pepper, oregano etc.). I'm sure the purists are recoiling in horror but it's always the first thing to disappear at a barbie. Probably the hottest thing I make is a Mango/Habañero coulis which is great with dipping chips. A mate of mine did the same thing as Andrew - he grows Habañeros in a pot in a sunny part of his house. He didn't use gloves the first time and his girlfriend thought she was going to have to take him to hospital.

Posted by: David Gillies at July 21, 2004 at 10:12 AM

I love to hear about the trials of the thrill seekers, but I pretty much burned myself out in high school on something as lame as those dried red pepper packets you can get with pizza. Every day for a month I would eat a personal sized pizza from the cafeteria with one more packet of red peppers than the day before. It literally got to the point where I had more peppers than pizza. One packet of those dried chilies is child's play, but eating two dozen of them at a time made me realize that it was better to taste my pizza instead of scalding out the inside of my mouth and intestines with a bowlful of acidic pepper flakes.

So now I'm a flavor guy, all the way.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 21, 2004 at 10:31 AM

Nothing wrong with Frank's. Sometimes a pat on the cheek is better than a flaming napalm-soaked rag over your face. Cholula is a bit better; less vinegary.

The flavor-over-heat people might enjoy Sriracha Rooster Sauce. Very good.


Posted by: Lileks at July 21, 2004 at 10:34 AM

I'm in Orlando, and there's a small war going between a few small Mexican restaurants with hot sauces. Habanero, the various "Smack My Ass..." sauces, et cetera.

Good food.

Posted by: cirby at July 21, 2004 at 10:50 AM

I love spicy food but confess, ashamedly, to being something of a chili woose. I've seen too many good soldiers go down trying to run with the big dogs. In the words of Detective Harry Callaghan: "A man's gotta know his limitations."

One chili related anecdote which springs to mind occurred at a Thai restaurant in Newcastle. A mate was celebrating his 30th with a big laksa. As he hunched over his bowl he lost control of a chunk of tofu which splashed down, sending a small piece of chili into his eye.

I lead him, blind and with streams of tears, sweat and snot cascading down his face, into the gents where he immersed his head in cold water for the next half hour. Two weeks later his eye still looked like a olive in a bath of blood.

Posted by: fidens at July 21, 2004 at 10:58 AM

I am no longer allowed to bring anything but store bought food to the family's Thanksgiving Dinner after I tried out a recipe for Orange and Chili sherbet .....

I didn't think it was that hot.

Posted by: Adriane at July 21, 2004 at 11:01 AM

Few weeks ago guy brought some Jumbalya he made to the local brewery. It was pretty good, pretty spicey, and got spicier as it got down to the bottom. He had some left over habaneros, and said he'd give $50 to whoever ate one. I said I'd do it for ten. I quickly chewed it up in tiny little bits. WOW. I needed cigarette after that one.

Posted by: aaron at July 21, 2004 at 11:07 AM

I agree with Fred- Dave's insanity is fairly nasty. I was pissed at a barbeque a few years back and was drinking the shit from a bottle to show off; I went blind temporarily, and simultaneously had a severe case of the shits and projectile vomiting. A fun night was had by all. Koon Yik Wah Kee is the chilli they dish out at yum chas, and is pretty good for a standard sauce. A good wasabi can make you see through space and time, and I make a sauce from home-grown birds eyes and habaneros; should not be taken internally under any circumstances.

Posted by: Habib at July 21, 2004 at 11:09 AM

There used to be a curry restaurant around the corner from me in Brisbane that made a mughli beef, which was pitch black and would make your scalp sweat. The after effects were particularly nasty, leaving the dunny looking like the Exon Valdez cracked up in there. Unfortunately they closed down, possibly as a result of fatalities. The Rupali in Newcastle UK makes a curry hell, which if you finish you get free. I believe that the challenge has yet to be met.

Posted by: Habib at July 21, 2004 at 11:36 AM

Hi Tim,

I keep a cousin of that sauce in my two restaurants for diners who say, "you call that VOLCANIC Satay?" etc. Blair's "After Death" is apparently less lethal than Sudden Death or the Original. But nobody dumps it on like ketchup. Employees are warned to wipe the plates afterwards before soaking them in water that might spread the stuff, and above all to avoid rubbing their eyes before handwashing. I've never tasted the stuff--you can smell what it's like, and my body is STILL enough of a temple to want to save it for Margaritas...

BTW-- did you see Part 1 of "The World According to Bush" on SBS? Devoted a good quarter-hour to Joe Wilson and his mates, and this in the same week as SBS Nightly News passes on the Steyn-Safire exposure of Wilson's con-job; as with the ABC, the lie was worth incessant publicity, the correction will never make the cut.

Posted by: Lew Bretz at July 21, 2004 at 12:00 PM

I drank hydrochloric acid once.

Tastes sort of lemony.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 21, 2004 at 12:22 PM

My friend, Richard is famed for having a total of 3 working tastebuds, much like the character Dave Lister in the Sitcom 'Red Dwarf'.

He has this limited taste capacity, like Lister, as a result of his incredulous love of all things insanely spicy.

Anyhow, he came into possession of a bottle of 'Insanity Sauce'. The ridiculous concoction had little effect upon him, so he instead took it into one Food Technology lesson (Home Ec. in most other countries, why we call it Food Tech in the UK is beyond me).

The lesson's subject was the creation of a pasta sauce and so each student put together their own Bolognese derivative and waited patiently at the end of the lesson for a taste test and mark from the teacher, a Mrs Pike.

Richard had produced a sauce containing no less than 2 tablespoons of Insanity Sauce. He made no effort to warn the teacher of this fact.

Mrs Pike took her customary mouthful, nodded and then moved onto the next table, marking down a score on her little notebook.

She had taken about 5 steps when the firepower of the spicy-stuff really kicked in and she just went absolutely ballistic. She was running around the classroom drinking any water she could get her hands on - funniest damn thing I saw in my entire time at St. Benedict's College.

- John

Posted by: Johnlouis Swaine at July 21, 2004 at 12:49 PM

I'll go on record as saying McIlhenneys (sp?) Tabasco tastes like crap. I'd much rather have Louisiana Hot Sauce or DL Jardines, or even Cholula. Good flavor, all of them. If I want to up the heat, a little Blair's.

Posted by: JohnO at July 21, 2004 at 01:08 PM

After scarfing on a few habaneros, this is just the ticket to put out the fire.

Posted by: Habib at July 21, 2004 at 01:12 PM

A ranbunctious friend of mine was running amok at a bar during last year's Gold Coast Indy, and was hosed down with capsicum spray by the cops; says it was rather intense, but rather fun once he could breathe and had stopped vomiting. Could be interesting to spray some on tacos.

Posted by: Habib at July 21, 2004 at 01:30 PM

As have several others here, I have met The Man at Dixie's as well. Didn't get a full dose of the stuff, but a tiny little bit on a toothpick was enough to burn pretty intensely for close to an hour. I tend to go into the "flavor over heat" group though (mostly as a result of having been spoiled for the first sixteen years of my life on New Mexico green chile.) I agree that Sriracha is good stuff, if a bit tame compared to some things. In the Seattle area, Torero's has a pretty good homemade hot sauce which I enjoy on occasion (again, not thermonuclear hot, but pretty tasty.) And although I'll probably sound like a wuss for saying so, most of the time if I'm looking for hot stuff, I'll stick to Pace Medium picante sauce (I'd prefer hot, but you can't get that at Costco.)

Posted by: Vexorg at July 21, 2004 at 02:11 PM

Brent, you mentioned a place in Rochester, MN... I used to live down the road in Mankato, and had heard of it (the name now escapes me, though; it was a decade past). A few friends said they'd been there, but I couldn't believe them after they couldn't eat my "mild" chili.

Anywho, I've got two 'hot flaming death' stories. Understand, I'm not afraid of spicy (or beyond) in any form, this Blair's stuff sounds interesting to me. So anyway, I was at a Chinese place a few years back, and I ordered a meal "hot, authentic, and scare the children." I was diggin' it pretty well, until I chewed... something. It squished pleasantly. It stung a little bit, nothing major... until it snuck up behind me with a .45 and splattered my brains into the soup.

Water made it worse; it just spread it around my mouth. Milk didn't help. CHOCOLATE didn't help. I suffered, oh lord did I suffer. To this day, I believe I have a dead spot on my tongue because of it. Owner tells me that it was a chili that had been marinating in a jar of chili juice for (attempt to render accent follows) "two, three week now. Just way I like. Good, yes?" I suspect he was actually soaking it in napalm.

The second incident involves my stepfather, who was born in India (to missionary parents), and has lived half his life there. What HE thinks is spicy would melt the bow off an Iowa-class battleship. I can't eat his authentic curry... I have problems VISITING when he makes his authentic curry, short of wearing a gas-mask (yes, I have done so). The family cats run in fear when the odors start to eat into the rest of the house.

Yet he can't do hot chili... I just don't understand.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 21, 2004 at 03:12 PM

Not a hot sauce story per se, but I was down in New Orleans for the 1999-2000 New Year's Eve, and we went to a restaurant and ordered. My food came with a habanero slice, which the waitress explained was simply a garnish and was probably too spicy to be eaten. Well, I'm a spicy food junkie/masochist, and was determined to try it (I'd heard of the habanero, but hadn't ever tasted one). I picked it up between my thumb and forefinger and had a bite. True enough, I began to sweat and my eyes teared up, but it tasted and felt good. You know, a rush. Several generous swigs of beer later, I was able to resume my meal.

The problem came when the beer caught up to me. I went to take a leak and immediately regretted handling the pepper. The resulting slow burn had my naughty bits tingling in a most unpleasant way for more than an hour.

Posted by: Sean M. at July 21, 2004 at 08:24 PM

Heh, I still laugh at the trick one of my friends played on one of my other friends years and years ago.

He rubbed a hot pepper all over the other guy's pen, knowing that he had a tendency to suck the end of it.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened. The guy picked up his pen, but then RUBBED HIS EYES.

Man, I have never seen anyone's eyes get so bloodshot.

Poor guy.

Now that I look back on it, that was rather cruel.

Well, what do you expect from twelve year olds.

Posted by: Quentin George at July 21, 2004 at 10:04 PM

How come ther's been no references to Johnny Cash (RIP) yet???

Posted by: DaveACT at July 21, 2004 at 10:49 PM

When I was a lowly rewriteman on the 4-to-mid shift at Chicago Today (a paper that had no tomorrow), we used to get subs from Danny Giampietro's Grandaddy Submarine Shop, off in a neighborhood where mobsters were occasionally rubbed out.

Danny marinated his fresh veggies and oil with incredible peppers, making them all volatile. It was as if innocent carrots had been sent to a tough prison and came out murderers. The oil could have fired a rocket to Mars.

I claimed a weak stomach. But my editor, doing his impression of the editors in Superman and Spiderman, growled at me and said he'd have no girlie man editors on his shift. He made me eat the subs.

The 4-midnight shift came to judge the heat of the pepper-and-veggie mix by the veins in my temples: The bigger the bulge, the hotter the heat. "Wow, look at that, you can see his pulse. It's a good batch today," they'd say.

Lore has it that the peppers cured my delicate stomach problems by cauterizing it.

Once, my editor allowed me to go pick up the sandwiches at Danny's. This was an honor, for it required delicate diplomacy. Only friends were welcome there, if you know what I mean. As I walked up to the place on Grand Street, it was filled with guys in dark shirts, if you know what I mean, buzzing. As soon as I opened the door: complete silence. I walked up to the counter and said to Danny, "Milt sent me." Danny nodded to the room. The buzz resumed.

Danny died some years ago and his shop closed but his legend lives on.

And my stomach is still impervious to fire.

Posted by: Jeff Jarvis at July 22, 2004 at 12:31 AM

A few years ago I downed a teaspoon full of "Scorned Woman" habenero hot sauce whilst my naive Canadian Bro. in law looked on. "That's not hot?" says he. I did my best imitation of Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, "Mmmmmm...No, not bad at all." Of course he had to try it. He still isn't talking to me.

A similar stunt involving a Philipina date and some jalapenos at Camp Pendleton had a curiously similar result. Go figure.

Posted by: Doc at July 22, 2004 at 12:35 AM

Wonderduck, the place in Rochester with the hot wing challenge is called Newts. I spent a total of three months in Rochester on business and that became my nightly hangout. Nice little bar for dinner and a few frosty ones. Since I was working at Mayo Clinic I was able to stay downtown and didn't even have a car. Rochester has an amazing underground infrastructure, kind of like a big spreadout mall connecting buildings (they call it the Subway.) One could live in downtown Rochester and never go outside if they wished. But you had to go outside to go to Newts, and when its -20F and blowing I usually went elsewhere.

Posted by: Brent at July 22, 2004 at 12:52 AM

Frank's Hot Sauce combined with (dig this) Blair's Sudden Death sauce with about 5 or 6 finely diced jalapeno & habanero peppers over about 30 buffalo wings for the weekly Monday Night Football ritual. I ate about 14 of them and was so hot I took my shirt off and stood outside for about 5 minutes to cool off. In 10 degree F. weather. There was so much steam coming off me, I thought it was Ozzfest.

Posted by: Roger Bournival at July 22, 2004 at 01:11 AM

Isn't it cool that bigtime writers like James and Jeff are here swapping tales with us losers?

"Ringstinger" will make me chuckle all day; thanks, David.

Posted by: Rob at July 22, 2004 at 01:58 AM

My brother Clark believes that "food should not hurt."


Posted by: Larry J at July 22, 2004 at 03:49 AM

If your looking for flavorful habanero hot sauces be sure to try the Marie Sharps Hot Sauces Brilliant Habanero pepper flavor without being death defying.

For a sauce that's great on hamburgers and sandwiches try: Crazy Jerry's Mustard Gas - Hotter then your average Chinese mustard, but with a flavor that tends to get hotter after your done eating. great packaging too. Awesome on burgers and hot dogs.

My all time favorite is Blair's After Death Hot Sauce with Chipotle - It has an intense heat that only hits you after you've swallowed. Never get this on your lips, it hurts! I like in on hard boiled eggs (just a drop) - For a true experience, when eating a burrito, your first bite should be covered with this sauce. Then for the rest of your burrito, you'll be a flame thrower and won't need anymore hot sauce. The chipotle flavor mellows out the intense heat to a tolerable level.

Come on, Ice Cream!

Posted by: Nick at July 22, 2004 at 04:22 AM

We have a bottle of Blair's Signature Limited Edition sauce, which can be bought only at hot-food shows. It comes in a cute little Nalgene bottle, possibly because it would etch glass. Weapons-grade, to a surety.

My husband brought it in for a Thai co-worker to try. She humored him and his insistence that he only try a tiny amount on a toothpick.

Very long pause, as she attempts to get all of her neurons back online.

"That's so hot", she says.

Another pause.

"But that's so good", she says.

That's a Thai, all right. Did her country proud.

Posted by: Dictyranger at July 22, 2004 at 07:03 AM

Why can't I want flavor and hot? I find Frank's is pretty good for bringing out subtle flavors and for calibration of heat factor up to pretty hot. I use Dave's when more heat is called for. I want taste and tingle.

Stories. In DeKalb, IL, a Vietnamese woman took over a small shop and renamed it Bea's Hot Dogs (because if cost less than chaning the whole sign). She actually had hot dogs, too. But her vietnamese food was great. If you asked, twice, for the "real hot sauce" she went below the counter and got you some. She would watch carefully to see if you collapsed, I think. Hot and tasty, especially on the excellent rice.
Jamaica. Went to a jerk shack for lunch. Pork not ready. Got the sausage and tried the hot sauce. Ladled on some more. Pretty good. That evening, got the pork. Really ladled on the hot sauce. Local says, "Watch it mon, dat'r really hot." I thanked him and ate it. He watched me carefully the whole time.
Party at my home. Made potstickers of various kinds, with varying dips. Two guys ask if I don't have anything hotter. (This was about 15-20 years ago) I broke out the Dave's Insanity. One guy tasted a tiny bit on his little finger. Said both his lips and the finger were tingling the next day. The other just put 2-3 drops on about 4 potstickers. He called my wife and complained 3 days later that it still burned to crap.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 22, 2004 at 07:21 AM

I received a bottle of "scorned woman" hot sauce, oddly eneough from a now ex girlfriend. I would put a couple of drops in a pot of stew. My step dad come over and unwisely applied a couple of dashes to a bowl of leftovers and spent the rest of the night in pain with lots of tears and sweat on his bright red face

Not claiming to be a hot-food eater, but Scorned Woman is my favorite steak sauce. For chili, I use Blazing Saddles. For greens (collards, turnips, mustard, etc) I have a red wine vinegar bottle in the fridge. First, the vinegar is emptied into a suitable container. Second, a half-dozen cloves of garlic are inserted into the empty bottle. Third, the bottle is filled with as many large pieces of habanero pepper as it can hold without compacting them. Finally, the red wine vinegar is poured back into the bottle, and the plastic applicator-thingie is reinserted. Then you let it sit for a few weeks in the fridge. It gives a whole new life to greens. Almost literally.

We tried canning habanero but we ran into the inevitable problem with canning hot peppers in a pressure canner: near death from bronchial rejection of the pepper aerosol. Then we found out that whole habaneros freeze wonderfully, and went with that instead.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at July 22, 2004 at 07:32 AM

FOAF story: Guy decides to surprise his girlfriend with a nice bowl of her favorite spicy chili. He chops up the jalepenos himself, and doesn't wash his hands adequately afterwards. That night they're getting romantic, his fingers take a walk downtown... let's just say it was an early night.

Mo Hotta Mo Betta out of Savannah, GA (http://www.mohotta.com) has all manner of flesh-eating sauces. They even tell you how many thousands of Scoville units it is. I figure if the bottle's sealed in red wax with a little skull on top, I'll just stick with the habanero sauce.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at July 22, 2004 at 07:39 AM

Brent, yah, I know about "the subway" in Rochester. When you've seen Mayo and the subway, you've seen the highlights of Rochester.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 22, 2004 at 02:11 PM

Here's yet another vote for The Man, fearsome hot sauce served up by Gene Porter at Dixie's Barbecue in Bellevue, WA. DAMN that stuff is scary--the color of oxblood, and the heat of a million suns. Trust Gene when he gives you a teeny bit; he's a kind man at heart and doesn't want his patrons in the hospital.

Also, it would be a good idea to fetch a pitcher of water and some peanuts BEFORE you chow down.

Posted by: Sooz at July 22, 2004 at 04:40 PM

Daves Insanity Sauce is up there; but Endorphin Rush is the nastiest thing I ever ate.

I was boozing with some friends in Chapel Hill, NC, and went out for a burrito. There was Endorphin Rush on the table.


It looked good. Being morons, we all splattered some on the burritos. I really loaded it up, 'cuz I was the hot food eating guy of the group. My nose has been broken several times playing rugby and getting in fights when I was a lot younger - so my sense of smell is intermittent at best, hot food is the only stuff that reaches it.

From the first bite, I was in hell. But I couldn't stop - I was the hot food eating guy. So I just started garaging the burrito. "Jeezus, I'm so f***in' hungry, you wouldn't believe it."

I got the burrito down, but damn, my mouth was on fire. Yes, my tongue and throat and roof of my mouth burned. My nose was running uncontrollably as my sinuses just flat out drained. But worst of all, my teeth hurt. And the teeth with fillings - holy shit, it was like being punched repeatedly right in the tooth. It was awful. The stomach pain followed shortly thereafter - a stabbing sensation. I don't even want to talk about the next day or so, whenever I (frequently) hit the crapper. It was sheer hell. There was also a red raw spot from my lower lip, running down toward my jaw, where some sauce had dripped and burned the skin.

My buddies - they didn't finish their burritos. Wayyyy to hot. So I'm now legendary. I'm not sure I'd do it again though.

As for good hot sauce - anything from New Iberia, LA, is the best plain ol' pepper & vinegar red sauce you will get. I like the Pan-O-La brand that is made there. The folks at that factory shipped my unit a crate of it during the first Gulf War, and it salvaged a lot of meals for us. It's also the best I've tasted. As for hot (red) barbecue sauce - the Dinosaur Barbecue, in Syracuse, NY, has some of the very best. But you can make some great stuff at home by starting with a good commercial sauce, like KC Prime, adding mustard, vinegar, and a whole lot of chili powder, sweet paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, brown sugar, and maybe a little cayenne or curry powder.

Posted by: Al Maviva at July 22, 2004 at 10:37 PM

The best hot pepper sauce ever has to be Susies Hot Sauce - direct from Antigua WI. It tastes amazing and it make you cry. The first time I tried it, I dipped a chip & ate. Damn, 1/2 a gallon of diet coke later I was still crying & had turned an interesting shade of crimson...

Try "Teardrops"

Posted by: Smit at July 22, 2004 at 11:35 PM

Once a Thai friend and I had to cook for the Port Moresby Hash House Harriers. We decided to make chilli con carne, but discovered we had no chilli in the house. My friend had noticed some chilli bushes in the back yard loaded with pretty little colourful chillis. We ended up using all the chillis off two bushes. Twelve years later our names are still shit after that effort. We did a record 5 kegs that night.

Posted by: Willmott Fribbish at July 22, 2004 at 11:56 PM

Great stories! I've thought of Dave's Insanity as sort of the standard for high-level hot sauce for some years now. After some of the descriptions I think I'd better try Frank's, too. Fort Worth, where I first started exploring these sauces, has a specialty store, I think the name is Pender's, with about 500 (no kidding) varieties of chili sauce, plus another room full of raw ingredients if you want to make your own. Can't try 'em all, but the names were intriguing....."Jump up and kiss me" I especially liked.
----------This isn't a sauce story, exactly. I decided to make some dish with dried Chipotle peppers I had bought at Penders. The damn things were too tough to chop well with a chef's knife, so I had the brilliant idea to put them in a coffee-bean grinder (one of the high-speed, bladed kind). Whirrrr-rr-rr-rr-zzing-zzzz.....when I took the top off the grinder, microscopic dust from the chilis apparently "foofed" up into my face and ...I inhaled. Oh, man, once you get that stuff into your bronchia and lungs, you can't expel it, no matter how bad your body wants to. I started coughing, but my lungs wouldn't let me inhale. As soon as I could get an ounce of air IN, another cough would explode. After 6-8 minutes of no-intake coughing, two thoughts flashed through my mind: "This death notice is going to make the Darwin Awards, goddamit." and "Now I know why they say married men live longer; they're not permitted to do such stupid shit."

It was a good 30 minutes before I could draw a decent breath, and about 12 hours before I was near-normal again. If they'd been dried Habaneros, I probably wouldn't be here writing this.

Posted by: Sam_S at July 23, 2004 at 12:08 AM

A vendor rep used to pay us a visit at the office about once a month, bringing bags of beef jerky seasoned with habanero pepper...ground up and rubbed into the beef. A friend of his (now in prison. hmmm) made it himself. The stuff was addictive! We'd sit around chewing one piece after another, sweating, faces turning red and swollen, laughing at each other, until it was all gone.

We called it "The Afterburner" for reasons which have been adequately documented in this thread.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at July 23, 2004 at 12:23 AM

I've had my bouts with peppers, and now it's not so much the burn as it is the flavor that sates me. Cholula is a good example, as it is about the same heat as the Tabasco(R) Green sauce, but it enhances whatever you put it on. The new Tabasco Garlic is another one, that brings *any* Italian dish to life - and just about anything else that you put it on.

I've had 2 experiences with peppers that had me reeling. 2 peppers, a red and a green, on a plate as a garnish, eaten together, interacted in a way that made it painful to breath. The other was a sauce from a Jamaican pepper that I do not know the name of, made by a friend's mother.

I've seen those "shit-shop" hot sauces, and I just can't bring myself to respect anything with a name like "Kick Yo' Ass", or "Bun Burner"...I've gotten a few of them as gifts, and found their heat/flavor to betray their names badly.

Posted by: Eric Hess at July 23, 2004 at 01:21 AM

When I was a callow lad, I found myself in Thailand, at the end of a cross-Europe/Asia hippy jaunt. I'd had a fair dose of "hot" foods in Turkey, in Goa and Madras, and had pretty much demonstrated a cast-iron stomach.

I ended up teaching English in a private school. The first day, after morning classes, I went to the school cafeteria for lunch.

I chose a nice green curry with chicken. It was great! I sort of pushed the green peas to the side while eating and took them all in, in one mouthful, at the end.

As soon as the "peas" hit my mouth, my eyes noticed my students watching me, observing my reaction. I guess will power wins out to some extent: I didn't run screaming from the room.

Since that day, I've never had a problem with hot foods, though I don't go messing around with the chemical weapons.

BTW, back in 2001, they found a "native" chili pepper in the Assam region of India that is reputedly 8X habaneros. I'm sure somebody is growing these commercially by now. Anyone heard of anything?

Posted by: Hatcher at July 23, 2004 at 03:11 AM

I've made my own hot sauce a few times. Rubber gloves are a requirement. I try to bring out the natural flavor of the pepper I'm using. If you cut open a pepper, you'll notice the white, raised walls that the seeds hang off of. this is the hottest part of the pepper. I cut it all out, seeds too. Sometimes I save it in a pile for extra-hot sauce, but usually I don't bother keeping it.

I take the coice cuts and toss them into a jar with either vinegar, lime or lemon juice. Sometimes a combination. I always add some salt, because the idea here is flavor over heat, and salt is a flavor enhancer. I keep this jar in the fridge for a few days, shaking it up whenever I get the opportunity. Then I put just dump it into a blender and blend as much as possible. You can cook it to smooth out the texture and bring up the heat, but I think it ruins the flavor. I've tried adding onion and garlic for flavoring - it's easy to screw up an otherwise good sauce by overdoing that.

If your hot sauce develops a watery layer on top, you know to cut back on vinegar next time, but it's all still good. It seems to keep for a few months. I toss it if it ever develops any cloudyness. Using my raw hot sauce method, you can taste the difference between various types of peppers. Habeneros have a real weird fruity taste. In my experience Scotch Bonnets are far hotter, but It could have to do with how much of their heat is in the parts I discard.

You also might want to sort the peppers by color to get nice colored sauces. When they arrive at my local store, they are in those produce pre-packs and often run from green to red in color, hitting every orange and yellow in between. Obviously, the bigger the peppers, the easier it is to de-seed a batch. I would never try this with any of the tiny pepper varieties. Bright orange habeneros are my favorite in terms of color and flavor.

Posted by: Pinbot at July 23, 2004 at 03:33 AM

I'd like to put in a 3rd vote for DA BOMB - it's rough. A dab'll do ya. But I've tasted one worse.
Unfortunately (or maybe not for liability purposes) I don't recall the name of the vendor nor sauce involved, but at a annual barbecue festival last year a vendor had posted written warnings saying they would not serve a particular sauce to minors nor pregnant women. Thinking it just hype (I love spicy food), I ordered some, and (thankfully) for once listened to my girflriend when she told me to approach with caution. I put a dot on the end of a rib and it was MAD hot. A guy next to us, observing my reaction, asked if he could try it - we said sure, warned him it was HOT, and watched him openmouthed as he slathered it on some ribs. Tried to warn him again, but he bit right in, and doubled over almost immediately while the tears and skin flush and snot began, his girlfriend laughing uproariously. By the time he could speak again, my girlfiend and I had finished eating and were clearing up, and we asked him if he wanted us to throw the rest away. He declined - he wanted to foist it on an unsuspecting friend of HIS. Ah, paying the pain forward. It's so - sniff - beautiful.

Posted by: rob the greater at July 23, 2004 at 03:36 AM

This isn't a story about a hot sauce I actually imbibed, just one I heard described memorably. I like a shot of mildly-hot now and then -- but my limit is reached by Dave's After Death sauce, or a teeny drop of Brother Bru-Bru's. But I do like to try out the "exotic" varieties once in a while. So, when I was stuck waiting for a ferry from San Juan Island to the mainland on a recent trip, I gravitiated to the hot sauce gift shop in the tourist trap part of town. While I was browsing the "wall o'death," another customer came in and was asking the proprieter about various sauces. The following bit of trivia definitely stuck in my mind:

"This one is really hot," the shop owner said, cheerfully. "It's one of our best sellers. The boaters at the marina really like it. When they're repainting their boats, they put a bottle of this stuff in the paint, and it keeps the barnacles from sticking to the hull."

So: a spicy condiment with maritime-industrial uses. I'm kicking myself now for not finding out the brand name, since everyone who hears this story wonders which sauce it was, but at the time I wasn't thinking about it -- and I definitely was not planning on buying anything used as barnacle repellent. (I myself ended up purchasing some relatively tame Boar's Breath red jalapeno sauce, which was quite tasty.)

-- Ruth

Posted by: Ruth at July 23, 2004 at 03:39 AM

A good friend of mine was a salesman here in Houston during the 80's, when many folks from more northern climes were migrating here to try new jobs. One such fellow, hailing from Michigan, was assigned as a trainee salesman to my friend's route, accompanying and observing him on his rounds.

My friend was a spicy food lover, and as a Texan, of course, he could eat jalapeno peppers like candy. He kept a jar of these in his car, to snack on between appointments. Well, the new guy, unfortunately, turned out to be a know-nothing blowhard, and one day in August, as they are crawling along in one of Houston's eternal traffic jams, from which there would not be a break for at least an hour, asks my friend if those "pickles" he kept eating were sweet.

"Oh, yeah." My friend replied. So the new guy sticks a jalapeno pepper in his mouth, whole, and starts to chew.

"Ooooooohh!" He says, beet red in the face. He starts pounding the dashboard. The car, which has no air conditioning, is poking along in the blazing sun at 1 MPH.

"OOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!" He starts pounding on my friend, who is laughing so hard he can hardly breathe.

Posted by: The Claw at July 23, 2004 at 04:29 AM

Andrew's comment reminded me of the bar-b-ques that Bush I would hold in Washington. He introduced the press corps and others to "the jalapeno rule" for men. After eating jalapenos, always... ALWAYS... wash your hands before going to take a leak.

Posted by: Chrees at July 23, 2004 at 05:07 AM

Since I live in one of the best pepper growing climates I like to make my own sauces. One time I grew what I think were "tabasco chilies." They were bright neon orange and to small to extract the seeds out of.

For my first ever try at making hot sauce, I blanched them and put them in my food preocessor with some kosher salt and a bit o' vinegar.

For those who have never processed hot peppers: DO NOT LIFT THE LID AND SMELL THE CONCOCTION!!!! I mean, have you ever witnessed nose hair melting? The fumes alone will almost kill ya! Wear gloves. For Bob's sake, don't rub your eyes ... or touch the cat.

Anyway, I ended up with a sauce that was a little on the hot (but flavorful side). You can detect a lot of heat just by adding 1/8 tsp. to a whole pot of whatever.

This year I am growing cayenne, Hungarian red, jalapeno, serano, anaheim, habernero and some others I forgot what they were.

My favorite hot sauce would have to be Thai. As J. Lileks found out, a Thai chili packs a mean punch. Yum!

P.S. rds is a wuss ;-)

Posted by: Catracks at July 23, 2004 at 05:22 AM

Great entries, all. I love the hot, but definitely favour flavour over heat. I'm surprised that no like-minded individuals have mentioned Boar's Head brand. As a hot sauce, it's relatively tame, but it is the most flavourful pepper sauce I have ever tried (made my the same folks who make the Boar's Head deli meats). I like to shake a generous helping of this stuff into my eggs when I'm fryin' 'em up for an egg sammich.

Three eggs, cheese (very spicy pepper jack, thank you), about two teaspoons of garlic and an equal amount of Boar's Head pepper sauce, fried up and stuck between some heavy bread... nothin' beats.

Posted by: RedPenguin at July 23, 2004 at 05:25 AM

I can't enjoy any of the really hot sauces, because most of them rely on capsicum extract for their punch, and to me it just smells and tastes like pepper spray. Maybe because that's what it is. If I want that experience, I'll just hang out with the violent fringes at some local lefty WTO demonstration, and wait for the waft o' spray.
Some favorites of the reasonable realm are Srirachi, of course. One of the most versatile sauces ever. Great on all Asian food, but perfect for any meat and mashed potato meal, like sheperd's pie. Sambal Olek is a more chunky asian sauce that's a bit hotter, but great.
Try Me brand's Yucatan Sunshine is a nice habanero sauce that manages to carry the flavor without the wickedness.
My all time fave: Mex to Go in Mountain View CA has a chili de arbol sauce that they make with chilis de arbol, fresh jalapenos, and jaloapenos en escabeche, all ground up and blended together. Unbelieveble flavor, and they make a damn fine burrito to put it on.
What some culinary/industrial genius needs to invent is a sauce called "Antidote." After some insanely hot meal, you take some of this and it races through your intestinal track and neutralizes all the capsicum before the meal raches final processing. I love heat in my mouth, but that love is tempered by my distaste for pain in me nethers.
Until antidote is invented, hot food will always be like dating Angelina Jolie: fun while it lasts, but you now that soon you will end up sitting alone and weeping, cursing your own stupidity.\

Posted by: dennymack at July 23, 2004 at 06:21 AM

Try putting a can of chipotle peppers in the sauce and onions in a blender. For a rich sauce, add some half and half or heavy cream.

I hate it that I can eat just about any hot sauce. I always pay the price later. They call me asbestos mouth, but I would rather be asbestos a** ...

God, that is soooooo tacky!

Posted by: Catracks at July 23, 2004 at 08:34 AM

I had a recent bout with with "Venom" sauce, truly venomous at nearly 100,000 scoville units. That's for manly showmanship, of course, which rapidly gets undone as it's hard to assume a studly stance when gasping, raining down tears and going through a box of tissues. Oh, and whining about wanting more water.

For all the griping I've read here about how bad Tabasco is, I find it fine. Flavor and heat in good proportion. I wonder if it's the normal connosieur's aversion to anything too commercial.

Posted by: AlanH at July 23, 2004 at 09:04 AM

Theres a fine line between using hot sauce to spice up a dish and putting mace in your food.

So I guess I shouldn't tell ya that a handfull of cops I know have been known to use pepper spray as a condiment..

Posted by: TInk at July 23, 2004 at 09:08 AM

"The Man" at Dixie's in Bellevue (east of Seattle) is definitely the hottest sauce I've ever had - like many others here have attested. One thing no one else has said about it, though, is that it is really tasty. I'll readily admit to being a hot food wimp (I blame it on my Scandinavian heritage), so I was really surprised when I first tried it. I thought, "This isn't that hot. It's really good!" For about 10 seconds, I figured I was either pretty tough or the sauce just wasn't as hot as people claimed. Then I had a vision of God, who told me never, EVER to eat anything like that again. That was from the end of a toothpick dipped in the stuff. I tell you, "The Man" isn't hot sauce, it's a religious experience. And it tastes good, too.

Posted by: Pete Nelson at July 23, 2004 at 09:32 AM

For flavour; "Shark Brand sauce" has a wonderfully hot but garlicy combination and is available in medium and hot. Try your local Asian grocery and look for the large bottle with a shark on it and it's really cheap. Try it on wings, it's great and the hot is really hot, not wimpy hot.

Posted by: jimcee at July 23, 2004 at 09:59 AM

Not hot sauce so much as the stuff they make it from. When cooking with fresh jalapenos, it's highly advisable to wash your hands immediately after chopping them up in case you have to, oh, I don't know, urinate at some point during the cooking of your dish. Trust me on this one.

Posted by: Christopher Johnson at July 23, 2004 at 10:33 AM

Here is a photo I put up a couple of days ago that should say it all.

Posted by: Guy at July 23, 2004 at 02:36 PM

Here is a photo I put up a couple of days ago that should say it all.

Posted by: Guy at July 23, 2004 at 02:38 PM

I was once told by a hot-sauce-shop owner in Redmond that The Man sauce at Dixie's was based on Endorphin Rush.  Never had either myself.   Batch #37 is one of my faves, mostly for the tasty carrot/garlic base, but also for the funny label.

Posted by: Eric at July 23, 2004 at 04:52 PM

I received this story in email form. I pass it along, if only for the chuckles. I just about lost my lunch, I laughed so hard. Guess that comes about when you're a comparatively wussy Yankee married to a born n' bred Texan:

These are notes from an inexperienced chili taster named FRANK, who was visiting Texas from New Jersey...

"Recently I was lucky enough to be the 10,000th attendee at the State Fair in Texas and was asked to fill in to be a judge at a chili cook-off. Apparently the original Judge #3 called in sick at the last moment, and I happened to be standing there when the call came in.

I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that it would be a fun event and a true taste of Texas hospitality. They assured me that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted. Here are the scorecards from the event.

*****Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili
JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy s##t, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

*****Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili
JUDGE ONE: Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to walkie-talkie in 3 extra beers when they saw the look on my face.

*****Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili
JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting s##t faced.

****Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic
JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Sally, the bar maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. b##ch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I'm eating.

*****Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me burst into flames. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks!

*****Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally. I need to wipe my a## with a snow cone!

******Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am worried about Judge Number 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a damn thing. I've lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava like s##t to match my damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful. Screw it, I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4 inch hole in my stomach.

*****Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili
JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending... this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed out, fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor Yank.

FRANK: --------------(editor's note: Judge #3 was unable to report)

Posted by: Doug Stewart at July 24, 2004 at 05:27 AM

I once threw a pool party in my home state of Arizona and challenged attendees to join me in consuming some raw, orange/red habañero peppers. Only one guy out of about thirty there took me up.

We sat down in our pool jams with a corona in one hand and a glass of milk in the other (milk is the only ready antidote to capsaicin) and chewed and swallowed a couple of the little peppers apiece.

See, the thing is, the really bad peppers tend to have a delayed effect, especially if you already have a pretty high tolerance. So my friend and I were fine for the first couple of minutes. But then things kicked in all over our skins and digestive tracts. We spent the next half hour reacting to and recovering from the feat.

You've gotta try it. Mexicans do it without writing comments on blogs, and think nothing of it. They must be crazy.

Posted by: Just Some Guy at July 24, 2004 at 01:25 PM