Anywhere I eat, no matter where it is, whenever I sit down, after serving myself a healthy-man-sized portion of food – always healthy-sized – people siempre seem to be amazed at what happens next. If we are at a restaurant I’ll gently ask the waiter or waitress, “excuse me, do you have Vaentina salsa, Tapatio or Tabasco?” If we are at home, I’ll reach for my jumbo sized bottle of Valentina and pour it all over my food in a very generous amount. Y sin fallas the next thing I know I’m answering this question:
What is it with all of that hot sauce?
This statement (not really ever a question) is usually preceded by a “Damn!” “What the hell?” “Nombre, ¿qué es eso?,” which I take it is supposed to imply that my eating habits are a little unusual. In truth, to me they aren’t. Growing up, a meal was never complete without something spicy. Whether it was homemade salsa de molcajete, Louisiana sauce in a bottle (they didn’t have as many Mexican brands at the Valley Mart in the 80’s), or fresh chile right off of the plant, we would use whatever we could get our hands on to give our food that extra kick. It was the Mexican way of eating. Or as my cuñado said the other day “pa que te salga pelo en el pecho guey”. No, there isn’t any scientific proof that eating spicy food will result in more hair popping up on your chest… but it is kind of hilarious to imagine!
If anything, I’m living proof that this statement is not true. I’ve eaten so much damn chile over the last 33 years y todavía ¡na’naís! Only the same three pinche pelos on my chest greet me every day when I look in the mirror. So while there aren’t any real medical or cosmetic benefits to eating tan picante all of the time – my wife on the contrary always tells me I’m burning through the lining in my stomach with ALL of that hot sauce – my choice to continue these eating habits is because of one reason and one reason alone: it makes my food taste better to me.
Yes, maybe it is true that after a while all of my foods start tasting the same, or even that doing all of this spicy snacking could be harmful to my health, I’ll even man up and own up to the fact that the older I get the more upset my stomach gets when I eat this way (I’ve even considered giving up the Atomic wings at my local buffalo wings place – what a tragedia that would be), but for now, while my stomach can still take it, I’m going to continue pouring on the salsa!
Why? For no other reason than because I like it.