Sunday, June 10, 2007
Sunday Scribblings: Some Like it Hot
When he first met Susannah it was her hair that he noticed first - long dark waves that hung around almond eyes of a similar shade. However it was her food that everyone else talked about. Susannah was known for the wonders of her kitchen.
And so it was that as he got to know Susannah he came to learn that it was more common for that sensuous hair to be tied back at the nape of her neck, one lock escaping free, often dusted with a scattering of flour. It wasn't so much that Susannah was a chef, rather that she lived to cook. Or perhaps she cooked to live. He could never be sure which.
Before long they moved in together, and soon food was flowing from his own kitchen in volumes that belied the few bags of potatoes and tomatoes he would carry from the car every weekend. It was once Susannah had firmly established herself both in his house and in his heart that the sorcery began, and the heat began to climb.
He had always had a sensitive stomach. His mother had raised him on a solid diet of Sunday roasts and apple crumble, and his constitution had never learned to cope with anything more adventurous than the occasional pinch of paprika. However, as their relationship grew ever more passionate, the fire that burned between them began to burn into the food Susannah placed on their table.
His meals began to be measured by expanding mercury. Susannah prepared a tomato pureed flood of meals, all infused with ever increasing amounts of chilli. A series of curries and Mexican delicacies passed over his table. If breakfast was baked beans then it would be augmented by a generous dash of chilli sauce. He would bite down onto a sandwich at lunchtime only to discover it dripping with jalapeno relish. An innocuous minestrone soup would be laced with sambal olek, a kumara soup with curry powder. Even Susannah's chocolate of choice contained hidden chunks of chilli, that crept up and burned the back of the tongue long after any sweetness was gone.
Slowly but surely his body began to rebel. Every time he downed another of Susannah's lovingly prepared meals his stomach would stir up a fresh batch of acid. His throat ached constantly, his eyes and nose watered, and the less said about the gases this new diet incited in him the better. Eventually even his heart burned from causes less than romantic.
He begged and he begged his beloved for mercy, that she tone down the seasonings in the food she prepared for him so faithfully. He even suggested that he take over some of the meal preparation. However she was her mother's daughter, and this idea was to her unthinkable.
Finally matters came to their inevitable conclusion, and one night poor Susannah left, taking her sauces, flakes, powders, pastes and chillis both dried and fresh with her. He felt his stomach release with a final gaseous sigh of relief. However as the days went by he realised that, with Susannah's departure, a fire had gone out that he could somehow never reignite.
For the rest of his days his food was mild and easy on his constitution. But he was never, ever warm again.
More Sunday Scribblers getting spicy here.
(And yes, by the way, I'm one of those horrid people who order 'Indian hot', and who ask for extra chillis on everything. I can't help it. I just like it that way!)