Encountering The Wings of Death

I found myself screaming in pain, screaming for some deity, any deity, to come and save me from eternal damnation of fire and brimstone... wave after wave of pure pain passed through me. I was crying. I was scared. And it was all down to my chilli challenge only four hours before...

This story is about the stupidest thing I've ever done while on the road. I don't expect either sympathy or respect, all I expect is a laugh.

It was while I was up in Cairns, Australia, that this story takes place. We visted a little Mexican restaurant called 'The Green Ant Cantina' for dinner. A cute restaurant with excellent cocktails and great music, you can see why it's a backpacker favourite. Upon opening the menu I had an inkling that a night of terror was before me. If I only knew how much I may have reconsidered.

There, on the inside cover of the menu, was a challenge: "Are you up to it bitch? 300g of blistering chicken wings doused in secret sauces made from some of the hottest chillies known to man. Only a few have succeeded, so many have failed...”

The Rules:

  • No liquid may be consumed during the challenge
  • The challenge must be taken at the bar so we can watch you suffer
  • The bones must be sucked clean of meat
  • The plate must be left completely sauce free
  • No whinging, moaning or crying like a girl

The prize for eating the hottest chillies in the world? A beer and a place on the 'Wall of Flame'. Immediately I knew it was a challenge that I was going to have to do. Why? Because I'm British and I'm stupid.

I'm really suffering at this point

After little persuasion from the group I was signed up, literally. I had to sign a liability waver saying that any medical repercussions from the challenge was my own fault. Ummm, what!?

I sat at the bar, psyching myself up, waiting. After 10 minutes came over a plate of blood red chicken wings - eight of them - and a mountain of hot chilli sauce. The barmaid rung the bell to say that my chilli challenge had started, the locals gathered around with smirks on their faces, and I started to sweat at the prospect.

The first bite was fire. Bugger me it was hot. Sorry, let me rephrase that. BUGGER ME IT WAS HOT! This was the hottest thing that I'd ever had and it was just the first bite. The first three wings were quite easy - I breezed it - but then I hit the wall. The fourth was nearly impossible and I was really struggling. It wasn't big and it wasn't clever. These really were the hottest chillies I'd ever had. Sweat was pouring from my face, my nose was running like the Niagra Falls, and I was shaking like a leaf. Adrenaline, endorphins, and god knows what pumped through my veins. I don't really know where I went after that but I knew I couldn't give up. After all, my ego was at stake.

Every mouthful was a struggle. Every mouthful was hell. However, it was a challenge and I couldn't quit, I couldn't stop.

Somehow I managed to complete it. The plate was clean and I was judged a winner - there was rapturous applause from the crowd (which had thinned a little by the time I finished but was still a crowd in my books) and my photo was taken for the 'Wall of Flame'. I had completed my own chilli challenge but I'm not quite sure what I achieved.

Getting on to the 'Wall of Flame' was all I cared about

I managed to keep it together to hi-five everyone and speak to the chef; I had to ask what was in it and he said a number of ghost chillies and naga chillies. He said it was around 2.5 million Scoville units - to put that in perspective, Tabasco sauce is around 3,000 Scoville units. So, if my maths serves me, my chilli challenge was 833.33 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. And that .33 is recurring, which means that the pain never goes away.

According to Wikipedia: "The chillies with the highest rating on the Scoville scale exceed one million Scoville units, and include specimens of naga jolokia and its cultivars, the 'Dorset naga' and the 'Ghost chilli', neither of which has official cultivar status." There you have it. I unofficially ate the hottest chillies known to mankind.

Why was it the stupidest thing I've ever done while travelling? Easy - I threw up twice that night and was in excruciating pain for hours - I was passing a red hot poker and I was so close to going to hospital to getting my stomach pumped. Honestly, it was a feeling I've never experienced before and it was a feeling I'd be happy to never experience again.

After six hours it was all over, but it was touch and go for a while. I was fine by the next day but it was a night I won't forget in a while...

Was it worth it? Probably not, but I do have a good story and some good photos. Oh, and I get to say that I've had the hottest chillies in the world. My face is on the 'Wall of Flame' and that makes me a winner in my book... applause please...