Man on Fire

The Smoke Eater's website says that the Hellfire Challenge certainly isn't for anyone with a weak stomach. They should have added that it’s just for mindless knuckleheads who have just lost it to go for this fiery recipe.

I am here at Belmont, California on an official visit. Most bosses are sadists but mine is of a different kind. Instead of inflicting pain himself, he makes us do the honors ourselves. So he talked me into doing this and I kind of agreed to the self inflicted pain just to show off my bravado. I might as well have slit my wrists than going for this but sometimes insanity rules over rationale.

The Smoke Eaters is at Santa Clara and specializes in chicken wings. There are seven levels of heat, starting from Mild to the hottest Inferno. With names like nuclear it’s not even advised to go for them but the its not the only thing that they have to offer. The Hellfire sauce is even spicier than Inferno and isn’t even on the menu. They make it special for the challenge only. The rules are pretty simple:

- You have 10 minutes to eat 12 chicken wings
- You can’t eat or drink anything else during the challenge.
- After eating a dozen wings, you have to wait another 5 minutes without eating or drinking anything.
- You have to lick your fingers clean of any sauce before the 5 minute waiting period begins.
- You can’t use any napkins during the challenge, including the 5 minute waiting period.

And the winner gets a free Smoke Eaters T-shirt and their picture proudly displayed on the Wall of Flame. As if it mattered but seeing the challenge in Man vs Food on the Travel Channel I was interested.

I was made to sign a legal waiver form while the cashier smirked as if wondering why this Indian came all the way from India to get killed. Need to mention that my Travel Insurance covers for getting my corpse back to India if need be.

The wings came in a thick, gritty soup of hot sauce. The sauce was steaming too which was the only thing that gave me in. First bite and nothing happened. I finish off the first wing and then it started. First my nose started running and then my eyes or it could have been the other way around. Then my esophagus gets constricted and it hit the stomach. I just couldn’t sit straight. The pain was unbearable by now and I was told that I had been through 4 of them. I barely managed the 6th one before I gave up. It was too much for me. I was red and I felt my lips ballooning up. Beer helped just as Dettol would have in case someone had been shot with a gun.

I don’t remember getting into the restroom and washing my hands and face and in the process I managed to get some scary shit into my eyes as well. Now I was so helpless. Found the paper tissues with my half open eyes and wiped my face. The pain in my stomach barely allowed me to stand straight. I came back to my table and gulped another glass of beer and tried to sit in a position that gave me minimal discomfort. Pity I couldn’t find any. A colleague of my had got some dairy based Smoothies which helped a lot and in 15-20 minutes, I was ready to go.

Boss was gracious enough to drop me off at the hotel at Belmont and I was so happy to reach my room. I threw up and the same process followed….it was kind of déjà vu. The pain while puking was the same as swallowing that freaky thing. Another bottle of beer and I knocked myself out and didn’t recall the incident till I did my shit thing in the morning. Everything came back to me in a flash. I am in a little pain now but it was some mindless shit which I’m not going for again EVER!

And BTW, I managed to have 6 wings.

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