When you’re hot, you’re hot!
We’re just back from a trip to Mexico and one of the nice touches where we dined was a hot sauce sampler for the table. Six little bowls of hot sauce to sample with a bowl of chips. The sauces ranged from very mild to super hot. The super hot was really super hot, and reminded me of some hot times we had at a little Mexican restaurant in Birch Bay Washington. I’m sure the place had a name but I only remember saying, “Let’s go to Señor Perez’s for dinner. Señor Perez wasn’t Mexican, he was an American whose name probably wasn’t Perez, but he had a deep love for Mexican culture, people, and food.
His restaurant was on the top floor of a two-storey building kitty-corner to the water slides in Birch Bay. When you’d arrive at the building you had to ring the doorbell and wait for Perez to come downstairs and let you in. The restaurant was decorated in a style very familiar to that found in some little towns in Mexico, complete with Christmas lights strung up all year long. Señor Perez always looked like he had been in the kitchen crying, his eyes were always teary, but he wasn’t sad, he had just been snacking on hot sauce and Jalapeño peppers in the kitchen. For your meal though, he would offer the hot sauce any way you’d like it, from very mild to very hot. On many occasions, we went for dinner there with dear friend and longtime radio DJ Rick Honey. He loved the place, and he loved the hot sauce.
On one visit Rick mentioned to Señor Perez how much he loved the hot sauce,“the hotter the better” he said. Perez seemed to take that as a bit of a challenge that night and said to Rick, “You like it hot, really hot? Well, have I got something for you!” He returned from the kitchen with a piece of carrot, the piece had been cut into quarters, and he served Rick just one quarter. That little piece of carrot seemed innocent enough, so Rick popped it in his mouth, chewed it up, and swallowed it. What happened next was like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Slowly Rick’s neck turned red around the collar, and the redness began to rise to his head, two red dots appeared where you might expect his sinus cavities would be and we waited for smoke to come out of his ears. The shocked look on Rick's face told the whole story. It had to be because he couldn’t speak.
He jumped up from the table and headed for the door. He ran down the stairs and outside into the snow where he jammed handfuls of snow into his burning mouth. Perez followed him outside and brought him back into the restaurant and served him a big glass of milk. Perez claimed that was the best thing to put out the fire. It worked, and Rick was able to pick an item off the menu that had a lot less heat! We were later told the carrot had been marinating in a mason jar filled with jalapeño peppers for 3 years and was Señor's favourite.
There was a lesson there, be careful what you say out loud when Perez was in earshot. That was something my former brother-in-law, Hank learned the hard way! Hank, was a “Good Old Southern boy,” from Savannah Georgia, and, on a visit to Vancouver, I took him to a game at B.C. Place. As soon as we were seated Hank decided to light up a cigarette. I quickly told him that smoking wasn't allowed in the building, to which he said, “It’s my God-given right to smoke wherever I want!” He lost that God-given right when the usher came down the aisle and told him to butt it out or get out. Now that you have some valuable background info on what a piece of work old Hank was, we head back to Señor Perez’s restaurant. Hank was fluent in Spanish growing up with a Panamanian Mother and spending a number of years in the U.S. Navy in Puerto Rico so I thought he’d enjoy something with a Latin flavour. We took him down to Birch Bay for dinner at Señor Perez’s eatery. We were seated at the restaurant and Hank was looking over the menu and asked Señor Perez a few questions and when he was done Hank said something in Spanish. I had no idea what he had said, but Perez was in earshot. When Hank’s dinner arrived, he took his first bite, and just before smoke started coming out of his ears, Hank realized that his meal had been, how should I say, “spiced up!” To his credit, Hank said “He got me!” For you see, unbeknownst to Hank, Perez spoke perfect Spanish and had heard what Hank said, and I guess didn’t appreciate being called a “funny little chihuahua!”
Goes to show, when you’re hot, you’re hot!
Till next week...
For a laugh, watch as celebrities take on the 'Hot Ones' challenge where they eat progressively hotter wings.
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1328 Johnston Road
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2