Some time ago I was having lunch at an Indian restaurant with a friend in Brickhill, London when we were caught up in the most craziest situation. Even now I’m pinching myself thinking did it all really happen or was it just some incredible dream. As we waited for our food on the terrace outside in the scorching hot sun a guy called Lewis Le Val dressed all in black with a top hat and film crew approached us at our table and asked us if we’d accept a challenge.
I’m not one to back down from a dare, but when he unwrapped a napkin and placed a selection of scotch bonnet chillies on our table telling us they were two hundred times hotter than Tabasco sauce we both looked at each other and began sweating. He set us the task to each eat a whole scotch bonnet chilli and promised we wouldn’t find it hot or uncomfortable at all, instead it would be sweet and refreshing. I already had a nice cold drink on our table and my logic behind burning my brains out was to eat it as quickly as possible without chewing too much and then down my drink and run my tongue under the tap in the toilet or ask the staff for some yogurt and ice cream to recover if it hurt too much. I love spicy food and curry is certainly one of my favourite foods, but I tend to avoid heat as I prefer to enjoy the taste as opposed to feeling uncomfortable and hot. Food for me is a pleasure not a punishment, but these chillies are notoriously painful.
Merrily I went first, telling myself everything would be ok because Lewis and his team were experts obviously. I took a little hamster bite into the end of my chilli and immediately my lips felt like they were on fire, my tongue started burning and my saliva instantly turned bitter, metallic and disgusting and I wanted to squeal. Half of me wanted to spit it out and down my cold drink and the other half wanted to swallow it quickly and hope I’d done enough to complete the challenge. My eyes were welling up, my heart was racing and every breath I took made the burning hotter and hotter in my mouth and throat. I reached over for my drink but as I did Lewis took hold of my hand and locked dead into my eyes and told me that I wasn’t in pain and it was just my brains reaction, and somehow the panic and desperation stopped, the burning was gone and I no longer felt like a rabbit in headlights. I looked at the rest of the chilli in my hand, laughed and then put the whole thing in my mouth before crunching it up. Amazingly I was calm and collected and ate the whole thing without the need of my drink or anything else after.
I have no idea how Lewis did what he did to me, but just his touch and what he said to me made the pain and discomfort instantly melt away and it goes against anything I’ve ever seen or done before. It seems a case of mind over matter, Lewis cut off the pain signal to my brain and then I no longer felt it. If I should ever find myself howling in agony in future he will be the first person I call instead of the emergency services! How incredible.