Mr. and Mrs. Mukherjee, thank you so much for having me over for dinner. It’s so nice to finally “meet the parents”! I really like your daughter, Mrs. Mukherjee, and she has told me so many times about your famous curry recipe. It smells a little spicy, but I’m sure I can handle it. You know, sometimes I have trouble with spicy food, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.
Oh wow, that is delicious. So many flavors I don’t think I’ve ever tasted before! It’s so exciting to get to experience your family’s culture and history through my palate. You know, it tastes kind of like cinnamon, but kind of like not. Let me just let this sit in my mouth for a moment to savor its taste. Mmmm. OK, hold on a second. This is spicy. This is very spicy. My mouth is on fire. It really burns. I have no words. I really enjoy and respect the richness of flavor in your food, but I think I’m going to die.
Would it be possible to get a small glass of water? Just a small glass, please. Quickly, if possible. Anything helps. Just give me the water. There. Oh. Oh, nope. The water does not help. It appears to have made it worse. Milk, give me milk. Heavy cream. I’ll drink anything straight from an animal. Yes, please, sure. Ahh, much better. Whew. Thank you.
You have a beautiful home, Mr. Mukherjee. Is that painting from India? I don’t know if your daughter has told you, but we were thinking about taking a trip there over the summer. I would like to see where your family is from. I’ve been really interested in Indian culture for a long time, and we watch lots of Bollywood movies together, but I haven’t traveled very far from New Jersey before. Let me take another bite. Is that cinnamon? It almost has a sweet and sour balance to it. Really, it’s—HOLY FUCK BALLS IT BURNS. I am literally on fire right now. Please, someone, anyone, call the fire department for my face it’s an emergency, it burns, my head is spinning and I cannot feel my tongue or my teeth or really anything at all except a sense of dread, powerful and haunting, and there is a tunnel with a light at the end of it I see it it is getting closer, closer, closer, and I will embrace it and enter its glowing halo of bright forgiveness it’s a blurry light and it overcomes and envelopes me with its love and grace.
Oh, dear—my face appears to be covered in sweat. I’m completely drenched. I guess this is a little spicy. This is truly delicious, though, I tell you—I almost didn’t even notice the spice! What’s the secret to this recipe? It’s cinnamon, isn’t it?
No, no, it’s not a problem. I’m totally fine. The redness in my face is perfectly normal when I eat food, as is the throbbing of my temples and the inflamed glands that look like tennis balls on my neck. The uncontrollable coughing—it happens every time I eat. I am thoroughly enjoying myself, really. It’s such a great opportunity to expand my horizons with these new foods and I’m so thrilled to get to meet you both and be treated like part of your family! Just excuse me for a moment while I go to the bathroom.
OK, OK, everything is fine. I AM STRONG. I AM LEGEND. I AM THE KING OF THE WORLD! NO SPICE WILL HOLD ME DOWN. COME AT ME, YOU GODDAMN SPICY BOWL OF HELL. I WILL EAT YOU. I WILL DOMINATE YOU. I WILL SWEAT YOU RIGHT BACK OUT UNTIL ALL OF MY PORES BURST FORTH AND I CAN NO LONGER EVEN BEGIN TO FEEL WHERE MY TONGUE USED TO BE. FUCK YOU, YOU BOWL OF FIRE. I LOVE YOU, I HATE YOU, I RESPECT YOU, I FEEL YOU. AND I WILL NEVER LET YOU WIN.
Ah, yes, Mrs. Mukherjee, you have a lovely bathroom as well. Since I assume it would be disrespectful to refuse seconds, I will of course take another helping. Just pile it on there. Another scoop—please, don’t hold back. There’s so much culture and family in it. You’ll have to give me the recipe so I can make it myself.
What’s that you have simmering on the stove over there? That’s the famous family curry? Oh, yes, of course I knew this was just an appetizer! It’s not a problem if the next dish is even spicier, not a problem at all. It might appear that I’m crying, I know—it’s just that I’m so happy to be here with all of you and experience your culture, and also that I touched my face accidentally.
Oh wow, this is even more delicious than the previous course. So many interesting flavors! It sort of tastes like cinnamon. OK, hold on a second. This is spicy—this is very spicy.
On Tuesday, April 1, Josh Freedman and other McSweeney’s Internet Tendency contributors will be reading at the Tenley Library in Washington D.C. 7 pm. More info here.