I don’t do spice.
I am a baby adult who can’t handle much more than mild salsa or just a few shakes of pepper. I once loaded a meal with crushed red pepper because I didn’t know it was hot and had to toss it all. My friends don’t even bother offering me bites of their food if there’s Sriracha on it. It’s embarrassing, really.
But in honor of National Chicken Wing Day, I thought it was time to face my fear -- that fear being spicy chicken wings.
I saddled up to Buffalo Wild Wings and picked four different sauces for my large order of wings, one from each spice level, clear-eyed and ready for the night like the naive little thing I am.
Disclaimer: The very hottest sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings is made with ghost peppers. I did not eat that sh*t.
I chose Teriyaki (mild), Honey BBQ (medium), Asian Zing (hot) and Wild (second only to the Blazin’ ghost pepper sauce). I also got tons of carrot and celery sticks and had blue cheese and ranch on hand if needed.
The Teriyaki was normal. I am a normal human, I can eat sauce, and this was true to its mild advertising. No spice whatsoever; I ate three of these wings in hopes that I’d enjoy my meal for a few minutes, at least.
The waitress had said that the Honey BBQ wings were a toss-up. Some say they’re mild, some say they’re medium. I obviously knew which side I’d be on. But I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy them! Just enough kick to keep me happy and not panting with my tongue wagging like a dog. Alas, I had two more rounds to go.
The Asian Zing sauce had a bit of a bright orange tint, so I wasn’t ready, but I sniffed it before diving in -- as one does to prepare oneself for an onslaught of spice -- and it seemed delicious, so I went for it with a bigger bite than was my first instinct. And I paid for it.
I don’t think normal people would find these hot, but let’s just say that I ate three celery sticks slathered in blue cheese after two bites to cool my mouth down. I’m not proud of it. (They were really good, though. Curse my virgin tongue).
Given the fact that my mouth was still reeling from the Asian Zing wings, I figured I’d just go for it with the Wild. Maybe my mouth was numb enough that it wouldn’t be an issue?
I licked the wing before taking a bite, which was dumb. I didn’t put any ranch on it, which was also dumb. I thought that this experiment would be fun, which was -- yes -- dumb!
Listen, I tried. I didn’t want another bite and I don’t think my spice-resistant body would have appreciated it anyway. My lips were tingling and my eyes immediately watered. I let the rest of the table dive in to the four-and-a-half remaining Wild wings and threw in the towel, nursing my lemonade and pouring ice cubes down my throat until it was time to go, head hung in shame and heartburn winding its way through my chest.
I made it up to the Hot level, which is impressive for me, but my tongue was no match for the Wild factor. I applaud the section of the world who live for spice, since they can experience a world of food that I’ll never be able to, but for now I’m going to stick to my medium queso and keep a carton of milk handy.