Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apocalyptic Burger

I am a Texan.

Last month I accepted a job as an Area Sales Manager for Safelite Auto Austin Texas. After the obligatory double-take and softly-whispered "wow" you will likely nod your head and say, "Gotta go where the work is." I'd be lying if I said that was the entire reason. Fact: The economy right now is a mother bugger. Fact: Jobs in Utah are sparse. Fact: I am psyched, stoked, thrilled, and elated with the adventure and opportunity with Safelite in Texas.

I flew in to San Antonio on Sunday and met my new boss. Erik was a standout offensive lineman at Texas Tech in the mid 90s and played one year of professional ball for Da Bears. A shoulder injury ended his football career and he has been with Safelite ever since. We get along well. We have similar senses of humor, identical tastes in nerd-lit, and we share a passion for good food.

Texas has presented a number of first impressions, which I'll undoubtedly share in detail in subsequent posts, but this particular piece will deal entirely with the Texan obsession with spicy food. These people put hot sauce or peppers on everything. And I mean everything. I swear I saw a little blonde chick eating an ice cream cone smothered with jalapenos.

We ate at a magnificent Mexican joint Monday night called La Fogata. The atmosphere was lovely and the food was incredible. The waiter made guacamole right there at our table and dressed it with a few odd-looking green peppers on top. Erik unceremoniously slapped one on top of his nacho and shoved it in his mouth...

"You ought to try one of those little peppers there Ty. Awesome smokey flavor to it."
"Yeah right boss, I'm not an idiot. If I want smokey flavor I'll go eat a briscuit."
"Seriously, it's not bad. Really good."

After some goading by the ladies at the table I gave in and cut off a piece that was roughly the size of a dime, put it on a chip, and threw it down. I shall attempt to describe the sensation below.

It felt like my entire face had caught fire. It felt like someone had hit me over the head with a scalding hot frying pan full of battery acid. It felt like someone had tried to repair my right molars with a soldering iron. It felt like someone had played Toby Keith music at full volume from a Bose woofer pressed against my head. It hurt.

However, this was my first business dinner with my new colleagues. I couldn't scream like a teenage girl that woke up lying next to Leatherface on a a waterbed filled with pepper spray, which was precisely what I wanted to do. I had to sit there and muster a "man, that's hot." I must have been a bit more transparent than I'd hoped because the waiter quickly brought me a pint of milk and a pitcher of water. It was a Serrano pepper. And it was vile.

There is a burger joint in San Antonio called Chunky's. Its notorious "Four Horsemen Burger" was featured on Man vs. Food and is one of the spiciest things you can eat in all of North America. One can only assume that the four horsemen in the title are referencing the Bible's book of Revelations and the four horsemen of the apocalypse that are commissioned by God to wreak havoc on the world in an apocalyptic vision. The four horsemen are Conquest, War, Famine, and finally Death. Chunky's apocalyptic Four Horsemen burger features jalapenos, serrano peppers, habanero peppers, and the dreaded "ghost chile" which I can only assume mirrors Death from Revelations.

Chiles and hot sauces are measured by something called The Scoville Scale and are rated based on "scoville units." The actual human sensation of "heat" caused from such foods is a result of a chemical compund called capsaicin and the Scoville Scale measures the concentration of that chemical. The following diagram illustrates the comparison of a ghost chile to a jalapeno pepper.

Folks, that shows us that a ghost chile is 400x hotter than a jalapeno. To put that into perspective, a full-strength power line is 44,000 volts which is exactly 400x stronger than a standard wall socket. Anyone that has been hit by 110 volts from a wall socket knows that it sucks. It hurts a little bit and certainly doesn't tickle. It's the exact equivalent to ingesting a jalapeno. It sucks. It hurts a little and doesn't tickle. While a wall socket will shock and hurt you, a power line will instantly disintegrate your entire physical being into undetectable matter. Which is exactly what a ghost chile would do to your freaking mouth.

When it came down to it, Erik wasn't up to the Four Horsemen challenge. He was calculated and noticeably concerned. I mean, Chunky's requires anyone that attempts that burger to eat it with rubber gloves. Rubbing your eyes with a finger that touched that chile would instantly Stevie Wonder your ass. They did, however, have something called "the ghost burger" which was a small step down from the insanity of the four horsemen. It had ghost chiles cooked in and reeked of pure evil. The following is a series of photos showing Erik's journey in conquering the ghost:

Pure Evil

The Attack

Initial Reaction

KABOOM! Bridget decided she'd take a crack at it, throwing down a small bite:

Which ended badly...

So why would anyone attempt something as naturally and inherently RETARDED as The Four Horsemen? If you finish... it's free. And we Texans will do anything for free food.


Sherri said...

Ahh! I can't even take the medium Pace Picante salsa! I'm not going to mess with Texas when it comes to spicy foods.

I'm glad you kept it together in front of your boss when your mouth was on fire. Way to be brave babe!

Melissa Proffitt said...

I think you'll love Austin. It's not too huge and there's so much to do there. We used to go there for state UIL tournaments (welcome, by the way, to the Land of Competitions) and it was so much fun.

I have no sympathy for your spicy food woes. I have a bottle of Acid Rain hot sauce in my fridge that is made from the burning souls of the damned and is essential to making real chili. Also, when I was in high school (in Texas) I ate cheese fries smothered in jalapenos every day for a year. It was my lunch. I was skinny back then. :)

Paul said...

Glad to hear you got a new job--I'm sure the wait was a bit unnerving. I've never been to Austin, but being here in NM we get a lot of Texans coming through. I hear Austin's Alamo Drafthouse is a must--dinner and a movie together--check it out.

Hope all is well with you guys--welcome to the Southwest.