DI Voices | A reflection on hot sauce


Photo courtesy of @seanseaevans Instagram

Sean Evans, Hot Ones host and University alum, visits the campus during Homecoming week on Aug. 27. Senior columnist Matthew Krauter talks about hot sauce and its uniqueness.

By Matthew Krauter, Senior Columnist

On KAMS wall of fame, a new celebrity alumnus joined the ranks of Hugh Heffner, Nick Offerman and Dee Brown. With his gleaming bald head and hot sauce in hand, there’s no mistaking the host of “Hot Ones,” Sean Evans.

In the show with hot questions and even hotter wings, Evans interviews celebrity guests as they run a gambit of 10 increasingly spicy hot wings. In collaboration with the University, men’s basketball head coach Brad Underwood graced the show and an Illini-inspired “the ILL-est” hot sauce made its way onto campus.

Tired of incessant jests from roommates for thinking Chick-Fil-A’s spicy chicken sandwich packed heat, I set my sights on upping my spice tolerance. For the better part of a year, I’ve garnered my own craft hot sauce collection, from “Ginger Goat” to “The Last Dab,” it’s a hobby as psychologically masochistic as one would guess from “Hot Ones.”

Having walked the coals of sauce and earned the calluses upon my tongue, it’s a joy to watch the same roommates struggle through the flavorful flames of my innocuous homemade wings. I’m pleased to report Shaq isn’t the only one shocked by the assaulting aftertaste of the infamous “The Bomb” hot sauce.

Amid the sweat, tears and chugging of milk, the victims of the heat often ask one question between conflagrative coughs — why?

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It’s an illogicality all too characteristic of humanity to consume peppers for pleasure. Capsaicin, peppers’ signature chemical, is evolutionarily designed to be a painful deterrent, yet the use of spices is nearly universal in cultural cuisines.

In the Academy Award snubbed film “The French Dispatch,” police cook Lieutenant Nescaffier samples poisoned foods of his making to trick a gang of kidnappers to eat their way to an early grave. Upon his miraculous revival, Necaffier immediately comments on the toxins.

“The toxic salts. In the radishes. They had a flavor. Totally unfamiliar to me. Like a bitter, moldy, peppery, spicy, oily kind of — earth. I never tasted that taste in my life. Not very pleasant, extremely poisonous, but still: a new flavor. That’s a rare thing in my age.”

Putting aside the severity of their poisonings, Nescaffier and my roommates’ reactions to the food are one and the same. Despite the anguish of their taste buds, they treasure the new experience. The drive for the spice melange is the drive to taste this world in its entirety, intrinsically human.

Don’t be afraid to spice up your game day next time the Illini play, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Matthew is a senior in LAS.

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