Before I discuss what exactly a Chilehead is, let me explain my topic to you so you do not think I am some kind of Dr. Frankenstein working on bringing back the dead in the form of a monster. Although, I might say it is more akin to the creation of a zombie, werewolf or vampire. My little piece is about taking your run-of-the-mill food lover, and making them discover food on another level of existence they have never previously experienced before. In a sense changing how they eat food from that point forward.
So, what exactly is a Chilehead then? Simply put, a Chilehead is a lover of spicy food. Their mindset is driven by getting their food not only with great flavor, but a controllable level of heat. Then you might ask what dear Buddah is a controllable level heat? Good question too, but why go into such seriousness when the people reading this are all ready Chileheads? I will get into heat level soon enough, but I want to get into my zombie-making style of Chilehead creation first.
If you are all ready a Chilehead, then you can tap into your memory banks and think about what life experience turned you into a lover of spicy food. For me it was this deli down the road from my parents’ house on Long Island that served a dozen Buffalo wings in a large Styrofoam cup with extra sauce poured in. I loved those things so much that I would drink the sauce once I devoured my wings. Ah, the memories. The Ground Round restaurant chain had all you can eat wings every Monday night and that drove me right into the Chilehead fast lane. Add in my Dad’s love of spicy mustard and hot pepper relish and every one of my Italian hero sammiches were endorphin-rushed.
As you recall what turned you into a spicy food lover aka Chilehead, you will also note that your spicy love had something in common with my spicy love- the food. More than likely, not the same food of course, but the fact you liked the spicy meal you ate. It goes to reason that if you did not like it, you would probably not be reading this. We build our lives out of the memories we have, good, bad or otherwise. A bad experience with spicy cuisine could result in a strong fear of it in the future. Something of a culture shock if an individual decided to go to a level of heat reserved only for those that can handle such spiciness. That painful memory is scarred in our brains forever, and no matter of convincing can get that person to trust anything with the word spicy or “hot sauce” associated with it. They might seek consoling to overcome their spicy-like phobia
A Chilehead is either a glutton for punishment or just happy to experience a touch of heat with their meal. The gluttons are thusly broken down into two groups, those that get a thrill out of burning people or those that want to show off how hot they can take it with others. Sometimes a little of both. Those Chileheads that enjoy their spicy experience want to share their love with others, but it is usually met with skepticism and a big fat negative response. “Thanks, but no thanks.” So how can we break through that barrier and keep them from killing you in the process? Not as hard as one might think.
Use a party to serve up one of your best dishes. It can be an office party, at a friend’s house or a family gathering. Just make sure you are not the host/hostess. You are not to be trusted with platters of food because they know you by now with your evil spicy concoctions. Bringing a dish that you can slide onto the table inconspicuously is what you want to do to avoid suspicion. Make sure the dish meets 2 criteria. One, it is an irresistible recipe that you are quite proud of. Secondly, make sure the dish in question is not spicy enough so anyone sampling it will be setting off the alarm to the other house guests. The point is to make them enjoy the food, and deal with the heat as an afterthought.
In order to pull this off, your food must be so good that the guests will complain to you about how spicy it is, but they still can’t stop eating it. My pasta jambalaya is just like that. I make it spicy, they all complain, but they can’t get their fill of it. Chilehead making has begun. The seed is thusly planted into their personal flash drives ready to be uploaded into their own kitchens. It actually is baby steps, because it still is but one good food experience. I would recommend The Dessert Diva’s Rattlesnake Bites for dessert, which is a fully textured brownie with a touch of heat that won’t scare anyone away. These carry a bite, but milk can be the equalizer here. A perfect ending to a spicy experience is one with a sweet reward. Everyone loves chocolate, right?
Every party is a place where you can spread the Chilehead gospel. Share your recipe if they ask, because they will want more brains! Err…I mean the rush again that they probably didn’t realize hit them while they were enjoying your food. The endorphin rush is not only habit forming, but puts people in a happy state. You probably didn’t think about it when you were being converted into a lifelong Chilehead. It just happened, and like a phoenix you rose anew from the ashes of non-spicy food.
Get out there and turn people into something they fear. Something they would not want to be. Create your own Chilehead legion and do not stop into the undead walk the Earth! I meant Chileheads.
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