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Monday, September 24, 2012

Hot sauce and birthdays

I know this photo has nothing to do with hot sauce.
It's just a matter of showing off my sweet 'stache.

I recently had yet another birthday, despite my best efforts at turning the calendar page one day before it was time.  Another year older isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just feel like it makes me feel like I have to work all that much harder to remain young.  So when it comes to my inevitable big day, I have no problem soaking up the love and letting my youngest daughter call me “queen” all day, which was totally her idea.  I swear.
This year for my birthday we happened to be traveling and staying with my husband’s aunt and uncle, who are just about the world’s best hosts.  They are also the world’s best chefs, and so I had no problem laying out a complete menu for them on by special day.  For lunch I asked to be taken to a Thai restaurant for a big bowl of spicy green curry.  For dinner, I politely begged for our uncle’s famous shrimp and grits, one of my many secret southern obsessions.
Sitting at lunch over my bowl of curry, I found it difficult to make decent conversation between the sniffles of spice, the frequent sips of beverage to extinguish the flames, and my constant commenting of how fantastic it all tasted.  “Oh, this *sniff * is so – pause to breathe and wipe nose and eyes—delicious!”
Over dinner I found myself giving hefty sprinkles of hot sauce and eating quickly before the grits swelled in my stomach and made me uncomfortably fat and happy.  Somewhere between the shakes of the tiny bottle of red it dawned on me.  Here I am, thirty-five, and a spice girl.
This is totally a revelation because I spent my entire life not liking anything spicy.  My disdain for all things peppery may very well stem from my father’s love for hot.   One day when I was around nine years old I simply walked through the kitchen while they attempted to concoct the latest heated crazy and before reaching the other side of the room my nose was bleeding and someone was yelling, “cover your eyes!  Cover your eyes!”  So thinking that spicy things could potentially kill me was fairly realistic to understand.
But motherhood does funny things to a person.  My first pregnancy found me eating all things salty.  (My daughter, however, is sweeter than the day is long.)  My second found me putting down multiple cream stick donuts without a blink.  (My son is filled with anything but sugar.)  My third, however, was a flavorful affair.  (I have to admit the logic doesn’t quite work here—she is one flavorful, full of spice kid.)
I found myself eating anything and, let’s be honest here, everything with any kind of zing.  Mustard, pickled peppers, Tabasco sauce, vinegar, and more.  There happened to be a sandwich special at our local cafĂ© that included salami, banana ring peppers, and mustard.  It got to be that people would call me when it was on the menu.  Even at this moment I’m finding it difficult to keep myself from drooling.
For all the drooling and sniffing and extinguishing, there are some serious perks to eating this hotness.  Doctors and researchers have been studying the health benefits of consuming capsicum, the stuff that makes peppers spicy.  They say it actually aids in digestion, can help with inflammation and fight infection, help stimulate heart and liver function, aid in weight loss and help keep depression at bay.  If only they would add in that it would keep me youthful, I’d be all set for many more birthdays to come.  
Just order up the queen another round of spicy.


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