Crazy for the heat: Flaming foods

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It happens every year. After the thaw in spring, summer comes on like a brand new lover, caressing you in its warm embrace and whispering floral-scented breezes onto your sun-kissed face. All of a sudden you find yourself comfy dressing in less clothing, lazing by the pool, planning evening strolls and leisurely, lighthearted cookouts. Even your taste in music softens.

Then, as the days begin to peak in length and fireworks sear the nighttime air, what was once a flirtation with the heat soon becomes a torrid affair. Days turn into a frenzy of high-speed fun spent playing in parks, laughing on lakes, whooping it up away on vacations. Sundowns pop and sparkle with endlessly flaming-up fiestas fueled by party food and party tunes. You never want summer to end.

Then one punishingly humid day near the last of August, you're over it. Because the once-exciting spark of early summer that led to a crazy conflagration of carefree revelry has inevitably deteriorated into a dreadful all-day swelter. You wish summer would just go away already.

But summer won't take a hint, only tries harder, burns ever hotter. On an evening when you can't stand it anymore, feel even too hot to eat, you shockingly realize something awful: summer has become your stalker. It follows you everywhere, is desperate to envelop you, breathes suffocatingly hot air down your sweaty back. In many ways, summer has become like a grotesque, pathetic and hated song that refuses to leave the space of your beaten-down head.

These were the kinds of things I was thinking about at a recent dinner when a dish was brought out to me wildly engulfed in flames. And then with a light bulb instantaneously burning brightly above my skull, I thought: I can't manipulate time, so why not try to enjoy the blaze of pleasures now while they're still available? In other words, seize the heat of the moment and maximize my fiery fun while it continues to seem like fun.

That flaming dish was thus an inspiration to seek out other hot eats crackling with kinetic energy. What follows is a list of singe-happy delicacies giddily delivered while still in the throes of a scalding cooking process.

I'm talking about overheated, showboaty foods that arrive tableside dramatically with special effects and high-heat transferring gadgetry. I'm talking about deliciously volatile edibles that audibly speak back to you, that'll have envious heads snapping toward your giggling table and - pertinently - that resonate with the sizzling rhythms of endlessly fun summer.