The Thai Bird's Eye Insanity Pepper

We went out for Japanese food last night, and tried a type that we had never heard of before: "Shabu-Shabu."  Maybe for globe-trotting world citizens this is nothing special, but we’d never had it before, and it was cool.  You get a pot of boiling broth and a whole bunch of raw meats, vegetables, noodles, and tofu, plus some sauces and ground ginger and scallions.  You dip your food in the hot broth and it cooks up super-quick, and then you eat it over rice.  When you’re done, you can drink the now-flavorful broth.

Of course, being Indonesia, they had the obligatory dish of raw red chilies.  Not traditional Japanese, but still fun to have.  Without thinking twice, I (TP) tried a bit, thinking they were the normal kind of very hot–but manageable and tasty–pepper that we usually get from the store.  Nope.  These were the ripe kind of Thai bird’s eye chili that we always avoid at the store.  These peppers are just so unbelievably spicy.  It’s beyond funny, it doesn’t make any sense, we don’t get it.  How do people eat these?  Normally we see Indonesians eating the green kind of bird’s eye chili, which is just as hot but not ripe yet.  One of our favorite memories is our teachers in Wisconsin this summer who would eat one raw bird’s eye chili per mouthful of rice.

And we’re not just being wimpy.  Food is freaking spicy here and we eat all of it…if anything we’re more used to spicy food than normal.  But still, this ruined dinner for me for about 10 minutes.  For those of you at home thinking "Ha, whatever, I eat raw jalapenos," you’re way out of your league, partner.  The heat is slightly less than a habanero, and I know you don’t eat those raw.

(jm: I can’t corroborate because I didn’t eat any.  Unlike usual when I taste test things for shrimp for Tom, he tried them first.  Thank goodness.  It was pretty funny, he got all red and teary-eyed and sweaty.  I know some people get some kind of masochistic pleasure out of burning their mouths to pieces, but it’s just not for me.)