Some of you may know me as the author of the critically-acclaimed travel book ‘Around the World’s KFCs in 80 Days’ and the ‘101 Ways to Club Baby Seals’ book series. Others will know me as the no-nonsense director of the ghetto remake of The Flintstones (renamed Flintstoned – a tough prehistoric tale of sex, drugs and dinosaurs). I am also a street poet, a former chef for Idi Amin, and possibly an unemployed gas fitter from Harlesden. Now me and my friends have taken on some bizarre food challenges! A monster burger challenge? Wotever bruv! A Breakfast Blowout Challenge? Wot? Not enough blud!! We want real challenges. Something that will take us to the limit!
The Man Dem are broken down into an unholy trinity: Ash-man (a young, Big Lebowski lookalike from Keynes), Raging Raj (big, Asian dude – born on a gambling den in Peckham) and myself (a bad attitude south Londoner – with a belly like a bowling ball). Combined? We’re unbeatable! So one Saturday night, we rock up to our first contest: The Viper Wing Challenge at Sticky Wings (a smart, dinky little restaurant off Brick Lane). The challenge seems simple enough: Ten Viper wings in ten minutes – no drinks. No help. No mercy.
The Man Dem are not afraid. We laugh off the challenge. Ash-man sniggers contemptuously. Darrell (the owner of Sticky Wings) brings us latex gloves to wear during the challenge (as the peppers are so hot, the gloves protect our naked skin). Darrell discusses the Viper Wings. Apparently, the buffalo sized wings are coated in two of the world’s hottest peppers (Ghost Chill pepper and the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga pepper). Combined, one hot wing is around 2 million on the Scoville scales (which is the equivalent of downing 560 bottles of Tabasco sauce).
The Man Dem stop laughing!
The innocuous looking wings are then put out in front of us and the challenge begins! We are all ready. We all tuck in. Our game faces are on! The first wing is okay. Slightly intense! I turn to Ash-man. He’s okay. He’s focused. We nod at each other. We ain’t going to lie down for no mother clucking chicken! It’s cool until I hear screaming. I raise my head. Raging Raj is having a major bitch out. He’s the first to freak out. I look at him, and he’s holding his throat as though he’s being choked out by the ghost from Paranormal Activity.
I focus on the challenge. I tackle my second wing. The slow burn of the pepper overwhelms me. My chest starts to cave in. My throat feels the intensity. My nose and eyes run faster than Usain Bolt. My breath becomes short. It becomes difficult to breathe. I ponder why the hell I’m doing this challenge anyway? I shouldn’t go through this pain intentionally! I then wonder if these chicken wings are used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
A major case of sweats break out with all three of us. I’m crashing quickly as I pick up the third wing. I block out Raging Raj’s screams in the background. I’ve got my own problems. The chilli has seeped into the cracks of my lips, the pain engulfs me. I want to bawl. I hear White Noise. I start seeing dead people. I’m sure at some point I call out for my mum. I soon say ‘fuck it! I’m done.’ I fling the fourth wing down, desperately clutching my chest, trying not to go into cardiac arrest.
Raging Raj also quits after only downing one viper wing (I later find out he pretended to eat the second one, waiting for one of us to quit – as he didn’t want to be seen as the first one to bitch out). I turn to Ash-man. He’s going strong. His stubborn nature gets him to 5 viper wings. He then starts shaking in the corner. His eyes roll. Ash-man starts to look a bit like Ghost Rider. I tell him: ‘Do not go into the light bruv.’ At that point, the Man Dem official quit the Viper Wing Challenge and Darrell brings us out milk to deal with the pain. We down the milk, cup after cup after cup. My lips are numb. I can’t feel them at all. I start speaking like Sylvester Stallone. I go home defeated. I place a toilet roll in the freezer. I suffer badly the next day. The peppers come out the other end. It hurts just as bad on the way out. The coolness of the toilet paper doesn’t work. I pour milk on my sore, bleeding rectum.
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