Consuming spicy food is a rite of passage for every Asian kid. It’s especially true if you were a younger or more compliant child within a group, ie. with your older sibling’s friends or your Sunday school buddies. One day, the bunch of you are seated at the “kid’s table” of a local Mandarin (because that was the only all-you-can-eat buffet that existed back then). Suddenly, the room gets a little darker and you start shifting in your seat. You realize how closely your table is starting to resemble a gambling ring. Your young friends are starting to make bets, such as who could piece together the most vile concoction possible of all-you-can-eat condiments.
So, random sauces and packages are squeezed out and mixed into a container. Slowly but surely, the ingredients are mixed in: first soy sauce, then dijon mustard, then straight-up wasabi; afterwards, the spicy flavours come in the form of Cantonese chili oil, sriarcha hot sauce, relish; and finally, the sweetest ice cream you can find– no mixture is too taboo or hospital-inducing for consumption.
And then the last step: by volunteerism or coercion, one kid (or even a couple) must consume this vile, spicy mixture as quickly as possible to satisfy the rules of the game.
Fast forward twenty years, and the desire to
force-feed share exotic flavours with someone is now found among the popular Spicy Ramen Noodle Challenge. This time, the victim participant willingly chooses to gulp down these painful foods because it’s cool, exotic, adventurous, etc . Throughout Youtube, people have risen to the challenge of consuming what may be the spiciest noodle of all time, Samyang Ramen Noodles. The rules are simple: pick the spiciest noodles you can find, mix them into a red-hot meal, and start eating as quickly as you can without stopping.
Here’s a video:
As you can see, many non-Asians have adopted this challenge to show their appreciation of Asian culture. Scarfing down the noodles without stopping, without minimal liquid chase, makes you a brethren of Asians who had suffered spicy food challenges at a young age. While flames dance upon your tongue and your shaking hand reaches for milk, beer, anything, you’re privy to the very social pressures and bodily pain that many Asians have experienced at an earlier past, when they sat in a circle with fellow onlookers. Moreover, here’s your chance to truly test your tolerance levels.
Here’s how you can participate:
- Head over to the nearest Korean or Asian food mart and pick up a pack of noodles in the Samyang brand. There’s usually a picture of a chicken in front. Their cheese flavour adds deliciousness to your burn, and the “2x hot flavour” package will send you to a special kind of Hell.
2. Boil hot water and make the noodles. Pour out water. Add powdered flavour on top, mix carefully. (These noodles aren’t served in a soup base because that would be too close to inquisitional territory.)
3. Have sadistic friends nearby to video your painful process.
4. Actually, on that note, have a friend or two suffer through this challenge with you. It’ll be worth it.
5. Have a stopwatch ready. Start eating. Don’t stop. Don’t reach for the liquid chase – it’ll slow you down and delay you from finishing.
6. Thank the gods for survival! (You won’t need a blood sacrifice, hopefully; your tongue has sufficed.)
I’ve done the challenge twice, and learned the hard way how to go about it. The key is to prevent the noodles from touching your lips or tongue, and simply swallow them whole. (Otherwise, you might just burn your lips off.) You also have to keep going and going. At one point you will want to die and it will seem as though your tongue has fallen off. That’s when you keep going. And then, right at the tip of death… you’re done, the noodles are finished, and you’ve made it alive.
After the challenge: I’ll have to say that the noodles started burning my tongue before giving me a legitimate headache. I hadn’t known till now that it was possible for spices to go straight to your head… or that you could lose your appetite for half of the following day. At the same time, doing this challenge with some of my best friends taught me that there are few things more precious or real than communal suffering. You’ve been hit by the same volleyball in gr. 4 gym class, you’ve worn the same dumpy prom dresses, and now you’ve cried together over Samyang ramen noodles.
Richmond Hill Asian does not advise you to try this at home because she is, in the end, a compassionate person. But if you are tempted, which of course you are, do PM me with your results. Good luck!