Does the little devil on your shoulder ever tempt you to order “extra spicy” at the Thai restaurant, or to load up your burrito with fire sauce? Does your inner face-melter dare you to pick up that chili pepper swimming in your Chinese food and shock your dinner companions by downing it whole? Do you secretly like that prickling, burning feeling on your skin that can only be cooled by your dripping sweat as you slurp down vindaloo, kimchi or enchiladas verdes?
It turns out this type of eating, and the regular consumption of spicy food, is linked to lower mortality rates, according to a study published by The BMJ. Many studies over the years have shown how spice intake can lower the risk of certain diseases (diabetes, obesity, liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease among them), but the BMJ study is broader in scope. Conducted in China with half a million participants monitored from 2004 to 2013, it shows a 14 percent lower risk of death when men and women consume spicy food on a regular basis. We’re not talking your occasional attempt at handling Indian food, but daily consumption. The chili pepper making its way to your dinner plate seven nights a week, might mean a longer life.
In celebration of national Hot & Spicy Food Day and the fact that these foods are “inversely associated with total and certain cause specific mortality, independent of other risk factors of death” (Party!), we put together this list of six of the most ridiculously spicy dishes across the country.
Pack your bags, your antacid, and your extinguishers.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Deep in the heart of Texas, set your mouth aflame with the El Diablo Burger. This Angus beef burger is loaded up with pepper jack cheese, roasted poblano chilis, apple smoked bacon, and chipotle mayo. Cool it down with an ice cold can of Lone Star beer. Unfazed? Don’t worry, we’re starting you off easy here.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Nitally’s ThaiMex cuisine boasts: “We do not kid around about our spiciness ….our medium is considered to be in most other Thai restaurants the equivalent of hot….customers beware!!!!!” With all those exclamation marks, it’s wise to take their warning seriously. If you’re feeling extra bold, try their Inferno Soup challenge. If you can finish this scorching bowl in an hour, you win $100! If you don’t, you’ll be $65 poorer, and probably questioning your decision from the confines of the bathroom. Spice Warriors only need apply.
Hoagies & Wings
Los Angeles, Calif.
If you are a spice girl who can handle the heat, get into the suicide wings at Hoagies & Wings. If you order them for delivery, the phone operator will ask you three times if you really want them, then chuckle at your fate before getting off the phone. Get your bucket of cooling blue cheese sauce and your ice cubes ready, these wings are no joke.
Pasta Plate from Hell
East Coast Grill
Only available once a year at “Hell Night,” you have to sign a waiver before digging into this dish. Word is it’s pretty much like putting a blow torch directly into your mouth. This pasta dish combines some of the spiciest chilies in existence including the Trinidad scorpion chili. Just the name itself is frightening. One diner even had the ambulance called after passing out from this dish. Beware!
Kung Pao Pastrami
Mission Chinese Food
San Francisco, Calif.
The chili reigns as king in this super popular dish from Mission Chinese. According to the SF Chronicle review, your palate will be blown for at least ten minutes. This fiery fusion is up there on our face-melting scale, and probably the trendiest on the list. Can’t make it to San Francisco? Try making it yourself with this recipe from Bon Apetit.
Brick Lane Curry House
New York, N.Y.
Apparently restaurants with extremely spicy foods like to create “challenges.” The Brick Lane Curry House has “The Phaal Challenge.” If you finish the entire bowl, you will be rewarded with your picture on the wall and a free beer, though you may not make it into work the next day. Phaal is a tomato-based curry with ten different types of chilies. At Brick Lane, they even wear gas masks during preparation. Here’s Brick Lane’s proclamation: “an excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavor. For our customers who do this on a dare, we will require you to state a verbal disclaimer not holding us liable for any physical or emotional damage after eating this curry.”
But remember, you’re adding years to your life!