i've been anticipating the fiery foods festival at the north market for a couple of weeks and it definitely didn't disappoint. we started by sampling products from sauce cartel, urban chefs and montezuma brands. now, i like hot food but don't really go for anything that could be classified as "stupid hot". i favor distinctive flavors with good back of the mouth heat. sauce cartel sells hot sauces that use a variety of fruits for flavor and sweetness that were really excellent. plus, the guys from sauce cartel positively ooze passion and excitement for their product. we picked up some green river sauce, made with pineapple and jalepenos. we also bought some soulicious wing sauce from urban chefs that had a great balance of heat, vinegar and smokiness.
next stop was cajohn's, for whom i've got a deep and abiding love. i sampled "the world's hottest chili" made with the the naga jolokia (scoville rating of 1 million!) i think the chili tasted good, but all i can really recall is my mouth burning for about twenty minutes after i sampled it. taking a break for lunch we had some pho ga from lac viet, a dish that never disappoints. don't miss the house-made chili sauce in the red quirt bottles. after lunch we attended "a chilihead's perspective" given by joe from the hot zone, a blog devoted to hot and spicy food products and chilihead culture. he talked briefly about the naga jolokia (pictured), the scoville rating system, chilihead culture and the online chilihead community. the "wings of fire" hot wing eating challenge was by far the high point of the day. a riveting mix of pain, testosterone, intestinal fortitude, endurance and sheer will, this competition was a real spectacle. presided over by the fine folks a cajohn's, there were two competitions. the rules were thus: contestants could surrender at any time by holding up a "surrender" sign or by taking a drink. for each round they had three wings to eat in 90 seconds, a 2 minute wait until the next round of three wings came out, with each round of wings getting successively hotter. among the hot sauces used for the competitions were: ignite, cojohns, ace, talon, and sauce 10. for the final round, a plate of ten wings covered in sauce 10 was placed in front of remaining contestants. whoever ate the most wings in 3 minutes was crowned the winner. halfway into the competition competitors' eyes were bulging and blinking, sweat glistening on their foreheads. in the last round of the competition, the guy i had pegged for the winner got sauce 10 in his eye and faltered. he did resume eating but the gentleman in the foreground of the picture below ended up winning the first competition.a contestant throwing in the towel:the second competition was pretty fierce with representatives from the hot zone and sauce cartel competing. unfortunately, gary from sauce cartel dropped out: which left two competitors at the very end to be crowned co-champions. as joe from the hot zone limped away, guzzling a pint of milk, i heard him say "i think i saw god". now that my friends, is some fiery food.