Last week I ticked something off my list of things I had to try. I entered the Reading Chilli Festival chilli eating challenge to see how well I’d do. Unfortunately there were a lot of things I forgot/underestimated before attempting this challenge. I asked fellow chilli lovers for advice but the advice I got was “don’t do it!”. Turns out just because you enjoy spicy food does not mean you will enjoy this.
- Quantity not quality – It doesn’t matter if you enjoy the taste of chilli. If you’re not hungry, you’re going to struggle. There’s a high volume of chilli to eat. It may have been the big breakfast I’d had earlier that day (I skipped lunch) or just nerves but I was already feeling pretty full before stepping on the stage. The first few chillies we were given were mild but big and took a lot of chewing to get through. If you’re going to do this, don’t eat that day. That’s all I can say…
- Stage fright – There must have been around 50 people or more surrounding the stage, all filming with their mobiles. Yes, it was encouraging but they were there to see you push yourself and gladly pointed out anyone who was falling behind. “He looks like he’s going to go”, “She’s changing colour”. It didn’t help that I was sat right in the middle of the stage either.
- Mild equals bitter – I thought the initial first chillies would be easy. I’d been practicing with scotch bonnets and hotter chillies but I didn’t account for the taste of the mild ones especially on a full stomach. Another put off.
- Time scale – You may not be on a time limit but the game has to keep moving at a quick pace and this was something I really didn’t think about. I was still chewing while everyone else was finished. I just couldn’t get through them fast enough.
- Don’t underestimate your opponents – I was sure someone in the group would go out early. The crowd kept pointing to people who looked like they were about to go but I think I was the only one who wasn’t willing to really push myself. In my mind the last thing I wanted to do after eating a super spicy chilli is bring it back up again, especially in front of everyone.
So I went out at Round 7 of 12. I hope this helps anyone else taking a chilli challenge but for me this was the first and last chilli challenge I will be taking. I’ll stick to tasty spicy food instead.
One the plus side, at least I left the competition still able to try out some of the chilli sauces on the stands and came away with this Fat Man Chilli Hot Lemon Sauce. There were a few lemon sauces dotted around the stands this year but most were a bit bland. This one was a sauce above the rest and tastes like it would go perfectly with chicken. It’s a mustard yellow in colour and contains Lemon Aji chilli and fresh lemons which gives it a strong tangy flavour, along with a subtle warmth that’s not too overpowering.
I’ve used this sauce for dipping and on barbecue hot dogs so far. It’s worked well with both. A very versatile sauce to have in the kitchen cupboards and I would buy again once I’ve reached the end of the bottle.
Currently available online for £3.85. Fat Man Chilli also make ketchup and other sauces like the very hot but very flavoursome Scorchio that I would also recommend.