Sunday, October 29, 2006

Have Some Habanero

The other week whilst Thew and I were out and about in San Mateo we stumbled across the Prince of Wales pub (see previous post) and what they bill as "The New Century's Hottest Hamburger!" for sale on the premises. Now, Thew and I, being New Mexicans, take a certain amount of pride in being able to consume obscene amounts of chile in a non-chalant fashion. Your hottest hot sauce? Bring it on, and pass the Tabasco while you're at it, 'cause I need something to spice up this Bloody Mary. You get the idea. So when we saw this claim, nay, boast, we had to take it on for size.

So on Saturday afternoon we rolled down to this fine establishment, bellied up to the bar, ordered two pints of Pabst & two Habanero Burgers. The first indication that you might be treading into some seriously saucy waters is the little waiver they make you sign. Of course, my inflated ego coupled with limited legal experience scoffed with a "oh, that's cute."

Our orders entered, we retired with our pints of PBR to await the arrival of the hottest hamburgers we had ever laid eyes (and tongues) upon. Soon enough, the bar maid called my name and there were two tantalizing, open-faced burgers in red baskets laid before me. The first thing Thew and I noted was the copious amount of habanero topping on the burger itself. In the picture note the red glob on the patty -- that's the habanero. Thew made the decision to sample a fry dipped in the mix to gauge the hot level before we dove right in. Needless to say, this small sample, as hot as it was, did not deter us (and it WAS mighty hot).

So, with a small fry sample already warning us against it, we dove right into our burgers. People, let me tell you, this was a BIG mistake. Well, maybe not so much a mistake, per se, as just an ill advised adventure. If I were to try and tell you what I went through in the subsequent five minutes, it would be something like this: Imagine a cat. Now imagine that cat on fire. Now imagine that burning, thrashing feline being shoved into your mouth claws and fire and all, then someone giving you a square kick in the genitals (if you are male). There are no words to describe this sensation other than to tell you that I was seeing double and my body dumped so much endorphin into my system that I was seriously high from it. But even being on an endorphin rush did not lessen the habanero hurt. I made several comments to that degree and the grizzled locals at the bar had a hearty round of laughs at my expense. Were it not that my eyes were crossed and my nose was running like a faucet I might have made a smart ass comment in reply, but this was not to be the case. I was worthless. Thew actually excused himself to vomit outside, which turned out to be a bad idea as it reintroduced his esophagus to the pleasures of habenro both coming and going.

After about half the burger I knew that I was hurting, but I reminded myself of my commitment and pushed on. I tried to think of those competitive eating folks who suck down 50+ hot dogs by embracing "the wall" and forcing their bodies to keep consuming. In the end I was victorious, but at the cost of 3 years shaved off my life and 2 pints of PBR. Afterwards I felt like I had just climbed a mountain; my body was spent but I had such a head rush I was giddy. We went home and crashed out for about 2 hours each while our bodies did their best to readjust to normality. Seriously, the Habanero Burger was a great feat for me. Thew thinks that worldiwde only 5% of the population could willingly endure the whole burger. I would be inclined to agree. It is awful, in all honesty. I think the burger might be good by itself, but the habenro was too much. It was a noble foe, but I would consider this a Pyrrhic victory, at best. I powered through it, but afterwards any belch carried a whaff of habanero that gave me the dry heaves.

Of course, my mission accomplished I took some pictures of the various signs they have around the Prince of Wales celebrating the Habanero Burger. I will say that a burger of that caliber (in terms of pain inflicted) deserves such accolades.

Later, after our guts had returned to some state of normalcy we ventured out to get burgers yet again, but this time from a more reputable establishment. This time things were much smoother going down. I will note, as a sidebar, that this is the most meat I've eaten in a day in like, 5 years. But burgers are good, so we'll not complain. Woo hoo!