OK, it's been a while. Sorry, avid readers of my blog (as though you exist!) My urge to write English text was suppressed through that whole semester because I was actually taking a course in which I had to write frequently. (OK, "frequently" for me is nothing for a humanities major -- I wrote probably 20 pages the whole semester -- but it seems like a lot to me, and no humanities majors read my blog anyway.)
If you're a humanities major, let me know if you're reading this. :) In any case, that is one of my theories for why I didn't feel the urge to blog. Maybe a better one is that I just need to communicate about stuff I'm thinking about, and I recently (since October) have had a special person with whom I frequently have been able to communicate. She knows who she is. :)
Anyway, I've got a lot of new stuff that's been happening, but I figured I would focus on how rapidly I've gotten appreciative of Spicy Foods, and how much the Habanero Hamburger has actually affected me these past five months.
From as early as I can remember foods until about age 18 or so, I couldn't deal with anything remotely piquante. Capsaicin made me hurt, and this made food unpleasant. So I would refuse to eat it.
My first foray into actually LIKING something spicy was at Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square (Boston), where I ordered some tasty-looking "traditional Vietnamese cooking" recipe and they served me something spicy. Normally I would have refused and eaten somebody else's meal, but it was so tasty that I fought through the pain and came out the other side. After that day I (in a traditional Metroid fashion) acquired the Spicy Suit and thusly augmented my capacity to withstand spicy environments.
That was not, of course, the end of the story. For my spicy resistance was only partial. I still would refuse spicy chilies or Vindaloos. The ability to defeat such devious delicacies would come later. The story blossomed with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand: the consumption of the venerable Habanero Hamburger. The Hamburger actually served two distinct roles in my spice maturation. The first was that it inspired in me the conviction that I could withstand any amount of spicy food given the right mindset, thereby evaporating my fear. The second was that it provided me a reference point from which to judge spiciness, and prevented me (through exploitation of my own ego) from calling anything "extremely spicy" unless it was at least half as spicy as the Habanero Hamburger. Nothing I've tasted since is even half that spicy, and so nothing is "extremely spicy" for me anymore. That makes it easy to get into the appropriate mindset.
But I must thank my fellow cooks in the Techhouse Coop for their role in forcing me to eat spicy foods. Now that I had the correct mindset and scale, I just needed experience in order to actually like them. And like them I did: the greatest curries and chilies were served to me, and lo! they were spicy (but not "extremely spicy"), and lo! did I pwn them.
A few weeks ago I tested my progress by ordering the same dish that once gave me the Spicy Suit: the Pho Pasteur traditional Vietnamese cooking. You know that feeling when you're playing an RPG and you go back to a lower level area and fight some mobs that used to give you trouble but now they're trivial? Exact same feeling. It was barely spicy by my new standards. But you know what they say about progress in RPGs? Leveling up builds character. :D I feel good about my progress.
Speaking of the Habanero Hamburger, I'm only just realizing how much of a mental advantage I actually had on the Burger. Many people who go eat a Burger think that they like extreme spice, so they consider the Burger just an extension of that -- and then they get devastated by its power. They totally blow up and break down because they're not mentally prepared. I had the right mindset from the outset -- I am not going to like this, better get it over with -- and it served me well, for I ate the Burger on turbo, blocked the pain from my mind, and it was a satisfactory experience.