In a perversion quite characteristic of our modern age of plenty, consuming either a volume so massive or a dish so spicy as to make the diner physically uncomfortable has become an accomplishment worthy of, at the very least, a fist-bump from your buddies and a T-shirt with a poorly worded double entendre. Picture “I Beat The Flaming Cock” on a T-shirt after you ate 20 of the hottest wings on the planet.
If you want to get some friends together for your own edition of “Man vs. Food,” here are some places to try. Just remember that after “Man vs. Food” comes “Man vs. Toilet.”
1. Inferno Soup: Nitally’s Thai-Mex Cuisine (St. Petersburg, FL)
In a clear example of the fact that we’re running out of gastronomic combinations for fusion cuisine, here comes Thai-Mex. Their inferno soup, a 48-ounce drum of broth, noodles and chicken, contains a pint (that’s 16 ounces) of crushed peppers. That includes the notoriously fiery ghost pepper—a chili so spicy that the Thai military has considered placing its extract in hand grenades. All the store asks is that you’re mentally and physically sound, and that you’re not drunk.
2. Hellfire Challenge: SmokeEaters Hot Wings (Bay Area, CA)
These wings seriously challenged Adam Richman, and he engages in self-destructive gluttony professionally as the host of “Man vs. Food.” Participants have to take down 12 “hellfire” wings in 10 minutes. Twelve wings might not sound like a lot, but you’ve got to endure the whole thing with no drinks or napkins. After you’re done, the challenge imposes a mandatory five-minute “afterburn” period during which you have to let your mouth and fingers marinate in the positively incendiary sauce. You may want to bring your own toilet paper. You’ll want at least 2-ply after that.
3. Crawfish Challenge: Hot N Juicy Crawfish (NV, CA, FL, AZ and D.C.)
Who hasn’t wanted a couple of pounds of crawfish served soaked in the most intensely spicy marinade and served in a plastic bag? No one we know. Hot N Juicy Crawfish specializes in Louisiana-style crawfish boils, and they pride themselves on seasoning their fare in deliciously vicious heat. Get ready to dive in, tear some heads off, and get your hands dirty—cause there’s no utensils at this joint.
Michael Nissenbaum is a lawyer by day (and night), and a writer by night (and day). You can follow him on Twitter @gnarsenbaum.