Burn, Baby

"I don't think that's the way it works," I said.

He gave me one of his "whatever" looks.

"You're killing your taste buds," he said. "I want to be able to taste my food."

Jamie Peachey

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HOT STUFF
• Try the salsa bar at the stunning new taco shop La Condesa (1919 North 16th Street, 602-254-6330). You can try a few bites of everything before committing to a spice level — and because it's self-serve, the kitchen will never know. But don't let the strawberry salsa fool you; it's one of their hottest.
• Try the red chili burro at Los Dos Molinos, (1010 East Washington Street, 602-528-3535; and other Valley locations). All the salsas there are great, too.
• Nobody does hot peppers like the Thai. And, at Sens (705 North First Street, 602-340-9777), Johnny Chu doesn't just mix up spicy meals; his Thai-pepper-studded cocktail, The Sweet Chili, will knock you on your ass and knock the wind right out of you, too.

I swear, I can never win an argument with anyone in my family. So rather than fight, I just nodded, smiled, and took another giant scoop of salsa.

For whatever reason, I felt cooler already.

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