Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spicy Dali

Long time readers might remember of past times when I have blogged about my misadventures with spicy foods. It seems as if I have had my share but I chalk it down as something that comes with the territory. Here in the United States were things are almost universally bland when it comes to spices, it is difficult sometimes to decipher the amount of heat that something has when dining in a restaurant. One person's version of spicy can be my version of just getting started. Or in the case I am about to relate, one person's spicy can slowly burn my internal organs like an underground coal mine fire for the next day.

While out and about in the urban jungle picking up a new pair of shoes for me to take advantage of the sales tax holiday in effect then, we decided to try a new place to eat. P.F. Changs is a chain Chinese restaurant but not one that I have tried and since one was near, it seemed like a good time to try it. As always in such a situation, I have a hard time deciding what to eat from the menu. Do I try their version of a meal I am familiar with so I can compare with past versions or do I go with something new.

I went back and forth between the sesame chicken, the shrimp with garlic sauce, both of which I've had many times before and a dish called Dali Chicken which was advertised as spicy chicken and potatoes served with stir-fried peppers with rice. As you already know, the Dali chicken won out and when the waitress came to take our orders, I told her my choice.

"Are you sure you want the Dali chicken because it is spicy?" I thought this question over because I've heard it so many times. Nine times out of ten, their version of spicy is just getting started for me and since our waitress was an very hefty lady who looked more of a fried chicken and biscuits every morning for breakfast kind of person and not a connoisseur of spicy foods, I decided to proceed and told her that I like my food spicy. "Are you sure because it is the spiciest dish we serve?" Although this second round of questioning was starting to worry me, there was no backing out now because I had my honor to uphold. Bring it on.

So twenty minutes later, it was laid upon my table and I knew I was in trouble. The peppers that it had been stir-fried in and which I had assumed would be some mild bell-like pepper turned out to be hot chili peppers. In fact, at least half of the food on the plate before me consisted of handfuls of little red hot chili peppers, the other half being a few slices of potato and chicken. I wishfully and a little too late, thought that perhaps these were a mild form of chili pepper that I'm not familiar with but one bite was enough to confirm that they were indeed the form of chili pepper I was familiar with. The food burned all the way down.

Fortunately, after the first half dozen bites or so, my tongue was tingling enough from the heat that tasting anything was pretty much out of the question. Another half dozen bites and my tongue, inner cheeks and lips were all thoroughly Novocaine numb. I finished eating the chicken and potatoes leaving behind a plate half full of red chillies making me feel that my mom would be displeased because I didn't clean my plate. But one of the things I like about Asian heat or any spicy dishes made with chili peppers is that the heat is not a lasting heat and quickly dissipates leaving behind a freshness. So when we got back to our urban apartment, my wife asked if I wanted any Tums and I assured her that I was back to normal and felt find.

I woke up in the dark throws of early morning with my mouth on fire. I quickly forced some saliva production and swallowed, getting my mouth back to a normal state. I was just wondering if I indeed had a sour stomach when it happened again and I belched. Instantly, the gaseous vapor coming out of my mouth caused an intense burning sensation on my tongue, cheeks and lips. This was getting serious. I got up to rinse my mouth out and went back to bed and eventually drifted back to sleep thinking the worst was over.

When morning arose and the regular movement came, I suddenly felt as if I had a burning log jammed up my nether regions, or more accurately, coming out. It was all I could do to stifle a scream so not to wake up my still sleeping daughter and worry my wife in the living room. I had only once felt a similar sensation a decade earlier with a run in of Dave's Ultimate Insanity sauce and in that case, 12 hours after having the entire right side of my face go numb and on my way home, I had screamed in the confines of a cinder block restroom on the back side of gas station somewhere along a desolate stretch of I-90 in southern Minnesota. Back then, I bought a few more bottle of Dave's Ultimate Insanity sauce to pass out but myself have sworn to never touch a drop of it again. I have now sworn to also abstain from P.F. Changs Dali Chicken. But like I said, it comes with the territory.

The picture of the Dali Chicken at the head of the post is not mine but one pilfered from the internet and said to be taken of P.F. Changs Dali Chicken. My version had no vegetables other than the two or three handfuls of red chillies that came with it. Now I wonder if perhaps I had acted too manly in my love of spicy foods to the waitress and she decided to cut me down a notch. It worked.


R. Sherman said...

I generally like spicy stuff, too, but there is a limit. Sounds like you've found it and I'll eschew Dali Chicken should I see it on a menu.


Murf said...

This was funny. I will never know what this is like. My Ukrainian innerds are quite happy with so-called "bland" food. At PF Changs, that translates to their exquisite honey chicken although I do enjoy their lettuce wrap appetizers and they have a little kick to them.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - For me, this wouldn't have been so bad if not for the morning after event.

Murf - I saw lots of people getting big balls of something wrapped in lettuce but didn't know what they were. If I go back again, I'll try something other than the Dali Chicken, even if most reviewers on the internet say it isn't very spicy at all.

Murf said...

I guess the moral of the story is to trust a very hefty lady who looked more of a fried chicken and biscuits every morning for breakfast when she tries to warn you. ;-)

Eutychus2 said...

Ed .......... P.F.Changs also has a knock-of, fast food chain called Pei Wei, which is becoming one of my favorites. Every time I go to my son's in Detroit, I INSIST on going to Pei Wei - but stay away from anything breathing even warm.

geri said...

If I get mad at my husband, I'll order a Dali Chicken for him lol

Been to P.F. Changs probably 4 times, I like their Lettuce Wraps the best.

edifice rex said...

I'm sorry Ed but I just laughed out loud at your misfortune; wonderfully retold as it was.
Glad you survived though.

Vince said...

No, I sorry.
This is where you discuss stuff with R Shermans profession.
The heat you describe is from Chilly Peppers, and I can guarantee you the Mexican Chef would never play with that plant, ever. And if some idiot is putting a spoon full of ground up Scotch Bonnet seeds in your dinner in order to prove a point. They require profound education before they kill someone.

Bone said...

You're right about "too spicy" being different for everyone. Occasionally, we'll order in pizza and wings for lunch and people will comment how spicy the wings are, but they're just right to me.

I've had a couple of things that were just flat out too spicy to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, I can't remember what or where. I just know tears were involved at some point.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

You have to learn to listen to the nice lady when she says "spicy"

TC said...

I love it when some days you order something and it's a good spicy, and the next time it's not at all. I want some consistancy please!