Ah, those good old Cape May days… by Jackson D’Catur
I am a man who likes things spicy. I like my ladies spicy, my gambling spicier and my spices spiciest. I remember the time I ran an East India Company schooner from Bombay to Cape May in three weeks flat, the holds filled to bursting with rare spices. We fought off scores of pirate chefs, desperate for our cargo, who sailed out from beachfront cafes in their sailboats, tall white hats waving, brandishing heavy ladles and nasty looking filleting knives…
It was on that run that I developed a curry habit, after a wager with a member of my crew, Seaman Stanes. Stanes had seen the world and left body parts behind on every continent. He lost an eye to the headhunters of Borneo, a leg to the Cook Island natives and a hand to a giant squid (truly he came out better for this abuse: his replacement eye was a fine opal that I swear could swivel and glare to make a man break into cold sweat, his new leg was carved from ivory in the shape of a bird’s claw, and his hand was a fully-articulated wonder of brass and mahogany that emitted small puffs of steam from time to time).
Anyways, to while away the hours we started a blind wager: we would take a handful of the contents of random herb and spice sacks from the hold, and have to consume the contents no matter what. The ownership of the cargo was the wager.
Well, I got lucky for the first few rounds. First I scored a mouthful of oregano, then a handful of basil, while Stanes gagged on some cloves, and wept tears from a lump of ginger. On my next turn, though, I had the misfortune – or so I thought – to put a fistful of the hottest curry powder known to man in my mouth. For a second, I thought “This isn’t so bad,” then my entire head caught fire, and flames shot out my ears, nostrils and other apertures not to be discussed in polite company. I shrieked once, a high, girlish wail, and collapsed on the deck, where I foamed, howled and clawed my way in tiny circles, begging to be put out of my misery. It was then, though, through seared and watering eyes, that I saw Stanes smirking and putting a small sack of curry powder back in his pocket. The despicable wretch had clearly emptied the contents into the top of the sack I was to eat from. Of course I leapt to my feet and struck him on the temple with my flaming fist, thus winning the wager, I am sure you will agree.
Since that day my taste buds have been irrevocably damaged. The only thing I can taste at all is curry – thus I flavor every dish with it, with the exception of malt whisky.