Ahhh, those sultry -20º days 'twixt Christmas and New Years'.
Last night we were in characteristic loll mode (the real word, not the crude Internet-ready acronym) so we ordered Indian food from the folks at Maison India (who comes up with these unique names?)
Brigitte ordered her usual butter chicken, and since I've been deprived of spice of late, I ordered the hottest thing available (of course!): the Chicken Bangalore Phal (cue ominous chorus of swarthy demons) (I count a modest 40 chilies in this recipe).
Now before you get up on your horses and exclaim that I just do it to be "macho" let me tell you that I spent 10 years at the beginning of my life being "macho" in Calcutta, India. Yep, if I wanted, tomorrow I could go down to the Indian embassy and order me up a citizenship.
And Bangalore Phal was invented in England, anyway, for the drunken louts who'd come in to the local Indian place and brag in front of their friends "Gimme the 'ottest fing on va menu."
Oh, it's hot. I must admit that in my earlier days (some would call it youth, but I reserve that for the period I'm going through now) I used to AUTOMATICALLY tell the friendly waiter "Make it as hot as the chef can make it -- I was born in Calcutta!" but now I exercise a little more self-restraint. A LITTLE more. I realize from my own cooking adventures that all you have to do is chop a few habaneros -- the closest things to radioactive vegetables that I know, since I have yet to obtain the truly dreaded Naga Jolokia -- and dump them in anything and immediately 99.98% of people on the planet will probably have to check in to their friendly ER for a barium enema and a week-long bath in seltzer.
So I don't do that any more with my cooking. It's a cheap trick.
But back to last night.
My son, Taishi, nicknamed Tai-chan ("chan" is a diminutive or an endearment in Japanese) is here from Japan for three weeks or so. Japanese food is the blandest on the planet, even behind British food. Most Japanese have seen a pepper only in their dreams and real wasabi is like a mild taste of a babbling mountain brook rather than a rolling gout of lava. Christ, most Japanese think onions are spicy.
But I happily digress! Food arrives, Brigitte unpacks, I try to unglue my eyeballs from some dreck on the 500-channel Universe and soon I'm happily munching away on some naan, basmati and Chicken Bangalore Phal.
All of a sudden, as I'm watching Rachel Ray wrestling Giada di Laurentiis in a pit for "Top Chef: Mud-wrestling edition" (and winning, the little skank!) I hear the most ungodly scream from the back room, where I thought Tai-chan was watching the marathon of "Transformers."
Turns out Brigitte thought what goes on in the family, runs in the family.
Tai-chan came running out into the living room in one of those Chuck Jones cartoon moments -- you could swear he was leaving a trail of smoke behind.
"Oh no," I said to Brigitte between happy chomps, "you didn't give him the Bangalore Phal, by any chance?"