The Most Painful Thing I Ever Ate

Back before Christmas, I discovered a restaurant called Genghis Grill. It’s Mongolian BBQ, and it’s quite tasty. I eat there about once a week, because it is about a 10 minute walk from my office. Anyway, I was there today, and made the same bowl I always make. It had some thin-sliced beef, a metric ton of carrots and broccoli, some chickpeas, black beans and soybeans. As usual, I put a few dried red chile peppers on it. I never eat those peppers; I just like to have them mixed in during cooking to add some flavor.

While I was waiting for my food to cook, a few co-workers who were also there invited me to their table. Once the food arrived, I was talking and eating, and not really paying attention to what made its way onto my fork. You can see where this is going. At one point, I chewed up something that was kind of hard to chew up; sort of leathery. I thought to myself, “Man, they really burned that carrot.” It wasn’t a carrot.

About ten seconds later, it felt as if I were sucking on a blow torch. The entire left side of my mouth felt as if it were melting. My nose started running. My eyes started watering. I’m sure I was turning red in the face. One of my table mates asked, “Eat something hot? Need some more water?” I replied, “Yes. And the only thing that will help this is milk. Or vodka.” As I was chugging my water, knowing that it only provided momentary relief, I was poking around the bowl with my fork, looking for the other two peppers. They were not there. Apparently, all three peppers had gotten stuck together, and I’d chewed them all up at once.

It took a good fifteen minutes before my mouth started to calm down.