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Adventures of a Chilehead
By Teresa K. Flatley

I can remember a couple of instances when I ate food that was way too hot for my comfort level, something Sharon Lippincott does on a regular basis. Once I dipped an egg roll in a mustard sauce at a local Chinese restaurant and became a believer that it really does feel like your head is going to come off from such intense heat. My sinuses have never been so clear. Another time, when I was in New Mexico, the epicenter for chiles and Sharon's birth state, I ordered a dish that I couldn't begin to eat.
And me, thinking I was a hothead just because I eat the little pepperoncinis in my salad and use a little of Frank's original hot sauce on grilled chicken. Minor league stuff for sure; a world away from the Big Gastronomic Show.
Sharon has compiled her experiences with HOT, HOT, HOT chiles in a new book called Adventures of a Chilehead. If you love your food hot and spicy, this book is for you, complete with Sharon's tales of encounters with chile and recipes to try at home (with advice on how to customize the degree of heat).Or leave the heat to her and read a fun story. She has even dedicated her mini-memoir to Capsacia, the mythical goddess of all things hot.
And don't hurry to check your dictionaries. "Chile" is the proper way to spell the word out west, while here, in the east, we choose to spell it "chili". That final "e" should be a warning: this stuff is way hot.
Sharon has had a lifelong love affair with chile, taking on challenge after challenge to eat the most intense chiles available. But she is quick to admit that maybe, sometimes, doing so was a little risky. In one tale in her book, she relates how she went to a restaurant in Portland with her family. The featured item? Balls of Fire, an appetizer made with habanero peppers and cheese. A challenge was made: Her son told her if anyone managed to eat five of the balls, a picture would be taken of the winners and placed on the restaurant's Wall of Fame. The gauntlet was laid.
The five balls were delivered to their table and while her three family members each took their time in downing one each, Sharon managed to eat two of them, admitting that the pain level for even her was off the charts. At one point, she had to stand up, and find her way to the restroom, where she waited shaking and sweating while the firestorm raged in her body.
Her family did capture a place on the Wall of Fame, but Sharon, a tough chilehead, said, those little balls may have been too hot for even her to manage.
Now if your lips are smacking because you can't wait to go out and find some chiles to eat as you read this, Sharon's recipes will give you a tasty outlet for those peppers. In the book she has included recipes for tortillas, frijoles, tacos, tostadas, chile con queso and more, described in her own wonderful way as she presents the food, and includes instructions for taming it for those with more tender mouths.
For more information, see below.
Lifewriting coach Sharon Lippincott, who lives in Pittsburgh, PA, is the author of the newly released book, Adventures of a Chilehead; The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description and several other volumes. Her blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, has been offering tips and inspiration on all forms of life writing since 2007.

For more information on the book, click here.  
To read Sharon's blog, click here.
To contact Sharon by email, click here.

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