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Curry Hell with Daniel Gildenlöw and Robin Eriksson

November 16, 2011

[This is an excerpt from a much longer piece on Pain of Salvation’s UK tour supporting Opeth in november 2011]

The conversation in the dressing room had been about food for over an hour yet no plans had been made. Giving in to excessive hunger, Leo, Johan and I accepted defeat and made our way to the nearest McDonalds to pick up some food. When we returned, Daniel said he had found an Indian restaurant famous for its ‘Curry Hell’, the hottest curry in the world. If anyone could finish the dish, they would get it for free and be awarded a certificate.

Unable and unwilling to turn down the challenge, I accompanied Daniel and guitar technician Robin Eriksson, silently kicking myself for this juvenile display of bravado. It is often seen as a badge of both masculinity and ‘Indianness’ to be able to tolerate or even enjoy excessively spicy food. I have no such aspirations, and would rather be thought of as having the taste buds of a young Latvian girl than subject myself to the torture of eating a jalapeno pepper.

This time, though, I decided to quell my instincts for self preservation. I ordered myself the infamous Curry Hell and prudently asked for some buttermilk, water and ice cubes. As I waited for my culinary executioner to arrive, I struck a bargain with Daniel. Free dinner, a certificate and the respect of a boyhood hero can only motivate a person up to a point. I needed a bigger incentive.

“If I finish all the chicken in the curry,” I began, ”then would you be willing to play a song of my choice in London?”

Expecting to be shot down, I was shocked to see Daniel considering the proposal. We bargained a bit- it couldn’t just be any song off any album, it had to be something realistically playable and it had to be short enough to replace only one song from the existing set. After a few minutes we arrived at a compromise- Fandango, the six minute long gem from 2002’s Remedy Lane.

Armed with such motivation, I was rejuvenated. When the innocuous looking curry arrived, I could already hear strains of the opening guitar riff of the song. All of which came to a grinding halt when the first molecule of the curry touched my tongue. It is lazy to say that there are no words to describe how hot the curry was. There certainly are. And I probably know them too, but I will struggle to find the order in which to put them in order to describe fully the magnitude of my suffering. The best I can offer is that it felt like I had accidentally slit my tongue and then gone for an open mouthed swim in the Dead Sea.

The waiter, for whom the biggest fringe benefit must be to watch people spontaneously combust while eating this curry, informed me that in order to receive the certificate, I had to finish all of the gravy as well. I spent thirty minutes painfully combating one piece at a time, taking the occasional break to run up and down the nearby empty corridor with my tongue hanging out just to simulate a cool breeze. By the time I finished the last piece, I had reached my limit. On a technicality, I had ensured that Fandango would be played (the deal was that I had to finish all the chicken, not all of the curry) and no certificate in the world could possibly have motivated me to continue. The waiter brought us the cheque with the smug and condescending air of a bully’s sidekick.

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One Comment
  1. Tomasz permalink

    Amazing story. So this is why they played Fandango that night! Fortunately they played it also in Krakow just by a will of their own 😛

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