I guess it was a bit of a shock!

“It will be quite hot,” I suggested.

“I come from Calabria,” was the reply. And, it is true that Southern Italy cuisine tends to use chillies in their food, making it a little hot.

But, this was Indian food and Indian food uses a variety of spices that can numb your mouth in ways that chillies really can’t. But, we’re in Italy and, after all, Indian food here is certainly not like Indian food in the UK. No, no, not nearly as hot as it can be in the UK.

I was having my usual Lamb Balti. On the menu it has two chillies against it meaning it is one of the two hottest/spiciest things on the menu. I love it.

A had chosen Chicken Madras. If we had been in the UK I would have said he shouldn’t have it. Here, I couldn’t really say that even though it was the only other item on the menu with the two-chilli sign. However, I was a bit concerned. After all, in spite of everything they may say, Italians simply aren’t used to spicy-hot food.

However, in his usual arrogant manner, he effectively told me that people in Calabria do everything better, especially when it comes to hot food.

Let’s be clear on this, I had not chosen the Indian restaurant. He had chosen it. It’s not because I didn’t want to go just that Italians trust “foreign” food in the way they trust immigrants – in that, they don’t. We still have stories here about the Chinese restaurants using cats in their dishes, etc. Plus, Indian food can be very spicy-hot and really not at all what Italians are used to. So, even if he’s a “real man” and comes from “God’s gift to the world”, Calabria, I had my doubts about the choice. I was, in fact, quite nervous about this. But, hell, I love it and he had chosen it.

Whilst we’re waiting for our antipasto (I had the usual mix and he had chosen some chicken and lentil soup – which, apparently, was quite nice), he said that I was an OK person for never having insisted on this place as one of our options.

But, that’s partly, for me, because it would only give him another reason to diss English people and their choice of foods. He can be quite crap at times.

Still, we were here. As part of my mixed starters I have a poppadom and I like to mix the incredibly hot onion mix with the cooling yoghurt to have with it. After he had finished his soup, he looked at the onion mix.

“That’s really hot,” I warned him. He decided to try a very small amount. It was as I had said. Too hot for him. He was grateful I had warned him and said so. But, that really should have been a warning in general. Anyway, it was too late now – we had ordered. The main dish arrived.

The waiter had persuaded him to take rice with his madras. I was, as usual (as always), having two naan breads. There’s a thing about spicy-hot food that’s done well. It takes a few moments to really hit home and then it stays with you and builds up over time. It’s one of the things I really like about Indian food. But, for me, you really need the naans to take away the heat. Bread works wonders.

So he started with his madras. The first mouthful was OK but by the second, you could tell by the look on his face, it became a little too much.

After all his “this will be nothing – I’m from Calabria” stuff, it made me laugh (inside, of course – I couldn’t actually show that). As it happened, the waiter came over to check if everything was OK. He knew me so knew that I was fine but was really checking about A. A spoke to him telling him it was too hot. The waiter suggested that he mix it with the rice (although I’ve always found naan breads better) to take away some of the heat. Still the waiter took it away to be “softened” a bit.

Except something went a bit wrong with the instructions and it came back hotter than it had been. It was like something from one of those comedies.

Needless to say it went back again to be “softened”. By that time, I’d finished mine. I tried the “new” version. Obviously, mine had been quite hot too so my taste buds were a bit fucked. Anyway, I found it too tomatoey.

But, fair play to the people in the restaurant. They were sympathetic and tried to be very helpful. I guess they’ve seen all this before!

However, maybe next time we go somewhere he isn’t used to, A will actually listen to me and not assume that, just because he’s from Calabria, he knows and can do everything?

Although I very much doubt that, bless him :-D

We were at the Rajput – see link on the right

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