April 26, 2008

If you can't stand the heat

Last night for dinner, I made something so spicy that it made my eyes water while it was on the stovetop. I literally started choking and my nose started running as the fumes wafted through the kitchen. I tolerated the heat much better when I actually tasted the dish than I did as I stirred the sauce. The offending dish was a new recipe to me, Scarpariello: Italian-Style Chicken with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions. It sounds like a dish to add to the Dinner and a Movie collection, paired with something Mafioso.

A couple of days ago, Chet and I were making our weekend plans, and I said I could make something for dinner Friday night. We began meal negotiations, and he said he wanted something spicy. Chet's love for extremely spicy foods is one of my favorite things about him. I pulled up the Food Network homepage, and they were promoting a link to a recipe collection of "Fiery Foods" and "Blazing Bites." Karma.

We ended up eating Scarpariello over polenta with a green salad and crusty bread on the side. I tried to make the Scarpariello spicier by using hot Italian sausage instead of sweet, and by adding a sliced habanero pepper to the vegetables. I wanted to use hot cherry peppers but could only find mild. I added some cayenne to the polenta, but it was still bland. Next time I'll not take shortcuts like using dried spices and making last minute substitutions. Everything was pretty thrown together, since we were trying to get out the door to the Tech Music Scholarship Concert. I drag Chet to the weirdest places.

I'll never forget a night a few months ago when Chet was making chicken fajitas for our dinner. He asked me how spicy I wanted the chicken to be, and I of course responded that he couldn't make it too hot for me. That started a bit of a sparring match, in which Chet seemed to pull out every spice and pepper he had on hand. I sampled a bit of the chicken in the pan, and it choked me up. We sat down to the table, and I was trying to say a prayer over it. "We are thankful for this food..." I tried to say, while my voice cracked and broke and I choked on my own breath. I finished one fajita, but my taste buds were screaming in pain. Chet turned very red and broke a sweat, so I know he didn't escape unscathed, either.

Chet is quite the cook. My favorite dishes he makes are spicy Asian entrées like curries and stir-fries. A couple of weeks ago, he surprised me by having a picnic dinner ready. He had packed sliced French bread, chicken breast, bleu cheese, lettuce, and tomato for sandwiches, plus habanero-stuffed olives, broccoli, carrots, grapes, and strawberries to snack on. We had chocolate chip cookies for dessert. After we finished, we packed up the food and blanket to make our way to the car. We walked past a couple sitting at a picnic table by the playa, and the man called out to us, "You two was made for each other."

Chet and Kimberly at Danshui

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