After a long search to find the limits of my spicy food threshold.. I finally hit my wall at Caliente. To say I love spicy food would be a gross injustice… a lack of emphasis… and honestly come nowhere close to describing my affinity for chasing the perfect pepper. My mom and I joke about how I had a head start when I was born because her biggest craving when she was pregnant with me was jalepenos. She would literally just eat them like popcorn and couldnt get enough. I always figured this was my secret inner strength that gave me my edge over other chili heads… Caliente proved me wrong.
Man V Food host Adam Rchman featured Caliente’s “Stupid Wing” challenge on Season 3, episode 5 and was able to conquer the challenge… albeit a near loss. After trying the wings for myself, I have a new found respect for the Adam and a new found sympathy for his stomach :)
When we arrived we told the waitress we were only there to try the wing challenge.. little did I know I was also there to nearly die. The waitress brought out the waiver for me to sign off on saying I wont sue them if the wings kill me and they let me back in the kitchen to watch them make the infamous “Stupid Wings”.
After a 20 minute wait… the wings were ready and I was about to meet my destiny.
There has never been a moment in my life (yet) where I ate something so ridiculously hot that I couldn’t continue eating. I’ve done the Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge so many times everyone in my family has a free shirt by now… I’ve put my face on the wall for completing the Quaker Steak and Lube Challenge.. I laughed at the Pepper Palace Challenge… I was even disappointed that the wings at the Carolina Wing Festival’s “XXX Spicy Wing Challenge” weren’t spicier. Caliente though… they actually have spicy wings.
I took my first bite cautiously like I always do.. just in case. The first wing lit my mouth on fire, but not unlike anything else that I have already conquered… so I started on the second wing.
The second wing went down and thats when all hell started to break loose. Nearing the end of the second wing my fingers started to pulse and go numb. Then my ears started to feel like I was at high altitude and they were going to burst. That was all a minor concern compared to the exponentially growing pain from my throat… an excruciating pain that felt like I had just drank boiling waiter. My throat felt like it was slowly swelling and breathing only helped to fan the flames.
I quickly ditched my ego and grabbed the closest glass of water and signaled for the waitress to bring me some ice cream. After a few more minutes my eyes started to tear up and the tears ran down my face… too bad the tears felt like they were also boiling and slowly burning my cheeks as they rolled down. My fingers by this point weren’t numb.. they, like the rest of my body, had gone into an uncontrollable seizure like shaking that made grabbing a straw nearly impossible. Everything on my body felt like it was being burned alive.. including my teeth.
After 20 minutes… 2 glasses of soda.. 3 glasses of water.. a bowl of ice cream… and some ranch dressing (yes, I really did drink ranch dressing) my throat finally started feeling better. I could talk again.. my fingers stopped shaking.. my head was still throbbing but all-in-all I was getting back on the right track to recovery. We paid the bill and thanked the chef for making something so incredibly spicy, then we headed down a few blocks to get some dinner at the Black Sheep.
The pain didn’t stop there though… for the next few hours as the food worked its way through by body, I felt excruciating pain in my stomach. Every 20 minutes it felt like someone jabbed a serrated knife into my stomach and slowly pulled it out… only to be repeated another 20 minutes later.
I have long said that I would be happy the day I find my spicy food threshold.. and I was. I was disappointed I lost the challenge because I really wanted the free shirt but I was happy to know I do have a soul and in fact have a spicy food limit. Whether or not my reaction is a typical reaction to the wings I may never know. We joked about the possibility that maybe I was oddly allergic to something in the concoction and thats what caused my severe adverse reaction after my second wing.. but who knows.
All I know is the wings brought me close to death and my tombstone would have said “Died of Capsaicin Overdose”. The wings at Caliente are not to be taken lightly and should really only be attempted by trained chili heads. If you think you can handle the heat give it a shot but be warned.. these wings are not for amateurs. Despite my agonizing experience.. I’m looking forward to trying it again next year :)