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07/10/2003 Entry: "El Sabor Más Grande."

I'm not sure what's been happening the past few months. I am putting hot pepper sauce on my food in large, wet red splotches. I'm asking for the medium-hot salsa, being generous with the red pepper flakes and flirting with jalapeños. I'm soiling with spices any number of foods that I have up until now ordered as bland as possible. Dinner yesterday evening was spicy tofu (and I scraped up every bit of seasoning off of the plate) and spicy hummus (which starts off deceptively bland but gradually begins smouldering on your soft palate.)

This is unusual. I'm the one who used to think Taco Bell Mild Sauce was just spicy enough.

Growing up, our family didn't eat anything particularly hot; sausage pizza was about the spiciest. Part of this was just the style of American cooking in the 70s, part was my mother's difficulties eating spicy foods. It's hard to prepare food you can't or won't eat. (On the rare occasions that I prepare meat, for example, I usually overcook it; I want to make sure it's "done enough" for safety, but I'm not going to taste it to be sure.)

I was fortunate to get my father's stomach; I just was never in the habit of eating spicy food. I'd accuse myself of trying to be trendy, but I'm awfully late to the trend. Mostly I'm surprised at how sudden the change came on. I know that our physical ability to taste declines a little and changes as we age, but it's a little early for that.

Of course, my general compulsion to indulge in food lately is another matter altogether, one I don't really want to analyze right now. I'll just take another napkin, please.

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