Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pedas Giler? Challenge Accepted

The sign said ‘Nasi Goreng Kampung – Pedas Giler!!!’

A cheap, cheesy sales gimmick, admitedly– but I fell for it. The sign felt like a challenge to the very integrity of my tastebuds, and if I could answer the sign in two words or less, it would be this:

“Challenge accepted”

Order up; I called for “Nasi Goreng Kampung” with a voice which conveyed authority and confidence. My tongue never felt so ready to face the barrage of spiciness I was sure it would face (or rather, taste).

But I was careful not to let my confidence blind me to the trial I would face. In preparation for my showdown with NGK, I ordered a cup of laici susu (which turned out to contain more ice than laici susu) due to milk’s properties as an antidote to spiciness.

The chef played a good psychological game. For one thing, he took a really long time to prepare the meal. In the meantime I was subjected to air laden thick with cili padi particles from the kitchen. Sneezing uncontrollably, I soon realized that it was a cunning, sinister move by the chef to undermine my tastebuds through my nasal cavity. Well played, chef. I have to admit that I was slightly shaken. A sip of laici susu to calm my nerves.

My resolve stood strong – I was not to be defeated before the fried rice even arrives. For 30 minutes I waited; once again, a sneaky move by the chef to build the suspense. Several more sips of laici susu to calm my nerves.

Finally the much-awaited plate of nasi goreng kampong appeared before me. My laici susu reserves were already at half its full capacity. The plate of NGK looked innocent enough. It was not deeply-coloured, as I expected. For a while I mistook it for nasi goreng cina, until I looked closely and spotted the flecks of cili padi hiding malevolently among the rice. A tentative taste confirmed it – it was definitely nasi goreng kampong. And as promised, it was ‘pedas giler’.

How do I describe the taste? It wasn’t the type of spiciness which attacks the tongue alone. Rather, it carried out a carpet-bombing tactic; the spiciness travels slowly, inevitably down your throat. The only way to overcome this was to eat continuously. Occasionally I would slow down to savour its “oomph” (and because it was quite hot), but I was doing it at my own risk.

The entire meal was a strange chase between these two sensations – the “oomph” and the spiciness.

But I am proud to say that I won the overall battle while hardly breaking a sweat. Sure, my tongue was slightly numb in the end from the heat of the meal (temperature-wise and spiciness-wise), but I can safely that the plate has been safely neutralized. If there were any parting words I would say to NGK it would be to compliment it for a battle well fought. But it has met its match in me.

Credit to the cup of laici susu which helped me through this battle. Although the cup was more ice than laici susu, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Overall, NGK lived up to its tagline.

Still, ‘pedas giler’? Challenge accepted. Challenge overcome.