The true breakthrough came a few weeks ago, when I handled a vindaloo without breaking in to sweat and only had to drink half of my accompanying cobra beer. I felt invicible. So what would logically follow...
Now, I may be a librarian. I obviously like to do nothing more on a Saturday night than read the works of Marcel Proust, or debating Derrida's theory of Deconstruction (doesn't it deconstruct itself?!). But I have time for low culture too. One of my guilty pleasures is Man vs Food. For those of you not philistine enough to enjoy such lowbrow TV, it effectively follows around a guy as he eats his way through America, taking on dishes that are massive and/or ridiculously hot. It's a show that's an ode to overeating, probably enjoyed by morons everywhere, and the absurd size of the portions tell me it can only possibly be made in America. I do occasionally beat myself up for watching it when there's so much hunger in the world. The average dish he tackles would probably feed a small North Korean village for a month. But I just let myself get immersed in its curious mix of WWE style OTT commentary and food-programme-for-people-who-secretly-prefer-burgers-to-caviar schtick.
Anyway, I thought I could do it. I thought I could conquer the Phaal. I was wrong. Within two minutes I was weeping, sweating...even hallucinating. The beer was useless, the water not much better, and the Lassi my friend kindly bought for me only had the effect of making my already fiery belly feel like molten glue. I couldn't walk for an hour or so afterwards. In this first installment of Joe Humphreys vs Food, Food definitely won (food would win every time actually, because whilst I have a healthy appetite, I am still quite skinny so I certainly couldn't eat a whole leg of lamb smothered in a kilo of cheese served on a bed of chips like Man Vs Food dude can).
But there is some consolation. A Phaal is a difficult challenge after all: