Before my father tasted any of his food, he’d shower the plate with red chile flakes. He even did it when, as a teenager, I made him lobster Thermidor for his birthday, a grueling task for a fledgling cook following a Julia Child recipe.
The love of hot food runs in the family. When I was a toddler, my grandfather used to dose my mashed potatoes with horseradish. The result was no lasting trauma, but a lifelong love of fiery peppers. We used to go through jars of hot pickled peppers. Salame was always spicy, salsas fiery. We can take it.