Like Johnny Cash (and Trent Reznor, I suppose), I am very much in a mood to hurt myself today, just to see if I can feel. But I’m afraid of the sight of blood, especially my own, so I was hoping chile peppers might do the trick. Any suggestions?

—Marta Owen


My first impulse was to recommend the camarones Topolobampo at Babita’s in San Gabriel, a quasi-Mexican dish of shrimp sautéed with minced habanero peppers that is hot enough to close the throat of even the hardest-living country singers. Our president assures us that drug users indirectly support terrorists — and believe me, he should know — so one has to gather one’s endorphins where one may. That being said, I’ve been grooving lately on the cold ox tongue and tripe at Hua’s Chinese Delicacies, a chile-intensive Sichuan dish that, while plenty hot, may not have the vicious kick of those shrimp, but affords the considerable visceral pleasure of gnawing through insides that are not one’s own. Should that not be quite effective, there is always Hua’s infamous Spicy With Spicy. Hua’s Chinese Delicacies, 921 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 445-2755.

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