But far from desist, we revel in the chilli, challenging one another to ever-more painful and hallucinatory one-upmanship. And we applaud it.
Here are some of the spiciest experiences you’re likely to have this side of being forcefully pepper-sprayed.
Where: Bay City Burrito
This Mission-style taqueria does burritos just like they do in San Fran, and its home-made salsas use freshly-tamed jalepeno and habanero chilli. But, once a year Bay City Burrito holds its Festival of the Chilli burrito-eating competition, where initiates can attempt to master the almost-deadly ‘ultrabomber’ burrito. The thing’s brimming with fresh chilli, salsa, and a nasty, highly secret concoction that’s made in consultation with Blair’s Death Sauce (it’s all in the name).
Those who are able to chow-down the Ultrabomber in the shortest possible time progress to the chilli eat-off held on July 4, where they can win themselves a year’s worth of burritos. If they live. If you’re up to the challenge, rock up to Bay City Burrito’s Hawthorne or St. Kilda store, ask for an Ultrabomber and sign the waiver. And don’t say you weren’t warned.
838 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn / 4 Shakespeare Grove, St Kilda, VIC
What: Gai Gob Pad Bai Kapow
Where: Spice I Am
Venerable Surry Hills lunch-spot, Spice I Am, has been sending diners into the future for years with, well, practically everything on the menu. But, chefs aren’t showing off; they’re merely doing things exactly as they do in Northern Thailand, where the restaurant’s fragrant, zesty cuisine is par for the course.
Most dishes are not only covered with angry little slices of perfumed bird’s eyes, but are packed with finely-diced chilli as well. Try the gai gob pad bai kapow, a minced chicken dish with scud chillis – and, order it ‘hot if you’ve got something to prove.
90 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills, NSW
What: Stir Fried Hot Green Chilli With Black Bean Sauce
Where: Chairman Mao
The name might be tasteless, but thankfully that’s not the case with the food at Chairman Mao in Randwick, Sydney. Serving traditional recipes from the Hunan province in central China, a region that not only produced the aforementioned Chairman, but a community of people with cast-iron stomachs.
While there’s a subtle use of pickled chilli in most dishes, others go in for the deep burn. The stir fried hot green chilli with black bean source (sic) forgoes even bothering to use chilli as a garnish and serves it as a meal instead. The guy who tipped us off on this one enthused it’s so good it “peels your face off.”
189 Anzac Parade, Kensington, NSW
What: Spicy Cumin Pork Ribs
Where: Sichuan House
Sichuan peppers, while not strictly hot, are unusual brand of spicy. Initially, you’ll feel a zesty, tingling sensation, soon followed by outright numbness.
It’s probably for the best when you’re eating at Sichuan House, a no-frills eatery behind some bins down a Melbourne laneway (just where we like our restaurants); deep-fried and doused in cumin, then buried in a layer of dry-fried dried chillis they’re moreish and painful at once. Combine with the cold sliced beef, which is liberally adorned with fresh chilli, to really ruin your insides.
22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne, VIC
What: Bhut Jolokai Lamb Curry
Where: Le Taj
Indians are by no means strangers to the charms of the chilli, as those who appreciate the long slow burn of a good vindaloo can attest. But, the Bhut Jolokai Lamb Curry at North Melbourne local Le Taj will make even the most hardened Indian diner’s toe shoot up in their boot.
It’s made using the fearsome bhut jolokai chilli – also known as the naga and, tellingly, the ghost chilli – and it’s 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Approach with extreme caution (or ignorance).
70/74 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne, VIC
What: The Megadeath Burger
Where: Off the Wall Diner
Never to be outdone, Brisbane’s Off the Wall Diner claims to be the hottest burger, not merely in Queensland, but on the face of the planet. But in this case, it seems as though there might be some veracity to the claim.
The Megadeath Burger, made with 10 slices of jalepeno, sweet chilli sauce, chilli jam, an enormous beef patty filled with chilli powder – plus a troublingly mysterious ‘secret ingredient’- seems to wrong-foot even hardened chilli masochists. The staff even laugh at you before presenting a pair of latex gloves for you to eat the thing…
Shop 4, 386 Main Road, Wellington Point, Queensland
What: Paha Bakar with Sambal Terasi
Where: Ayam Goreng 99
No chilli tour would be complete without stopping off for Indonesian, where fresh, clean flavours are accentuated by incendiary sambals. One of Sydney’s favourites is Ayam Goreng 99, an unfussy Indonesian diner in Kingsford.
Order the paha bakar – marinated chicken seared over a charcoal grill – and ask for a side of sambal terasi, a thick, angry sauce made from freshly ground chilli.
464 Anzac Parade, Sydney, NSW
What: Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
Where: Wildfire Chilli
Undoubtedly, there’ll be a few stone-cold chilli wrestlers reading this article who’ll think the mouth-melting, stomach-curdling, psychotropically-powerful dishes on this list are the kind of thing served to small children. But there’s no argument that the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T is at least a little bit hot.
Currently the Guinness World Record holder for being badass (probably literally), this thing clocks up 1.4 million units on the Scoville heat scale. So essentially it’s a weapon. Wildfire Chilli in Perth are selling these devils by the bag for people who want to cry in front of their mates. While it’s not strictly a dish, after eating Trinidad Scorpion you’re not going to taste anything for weeks anyway….
The writer has previously worked as a consultant for Bay City Burrito