You and I have a potted history, I first encountered you in Norwich while dining with friends, and while I was impressed with your free refills and magic shrunken ice making machine I was less so impressed with the quality of your food. We next ate together in London, where I became a frequent visitor as part of my role as youth worker to the local children. Again, I was impressed with your free refills and with the promptness of the food and was very much relieved that you had stolen the favour of young people from Pizza Hut, an eatery that never filled me with much but dread. However, I was again less than impressed with your food, chiefly with your claimed levels of hotness.
In the current Nandos heat range you have five options, and of real concern here are the hottest two which are apparently ‘hot’ and ‘extra hot’. Clearly, these are mislabelled. I, a white skinny male can eat your ‘hot’ chicken without so much as a tingling sensation, and your ‘extra hot’ is much the same. This is poor, but not my real reason for concern. My real reason is the poverty of heat in your line of sauces. Your hot sauce would be better described as luke-warm, while your extra hot sauce could be used to pacify mewling babies. In short, your sauces are patronising and offensive to both my tastebubs and my linguistic sensibilities. And yet this is still not my reason for concern.
I, as mentioned, am a youth worker, and visit your restaurant in that capacity. When I dare young people to try the extra hot sauce I take it seriously, as do they. I expect them to weigh up the risk, to balance the mockery of their peers if they don’t taste it, to the humiliation of not being able to consume it if they do. To assert bravely that they can eat it, and then run to the bathroom to cover up their watering eyes. I expect them to fear licking their fingers for weeks in case some chilli remains. I do not expect them to be able to down three cups of it and barely singe their tonsils. This is not hot sauce; this is an insult.
Recently, you introduced extra extra hot sauce, branded in smaller matte black bottles with red labels. Would this be the sauce to divide young people? Would this be hot enough to engender blindness? Clearly not. It baffles me how this sauce came to be considered as hot, let alone extra extra hot. How did you make such a mockery? When you shipped the sauces over did you fly them over a patch of chillies some miles distant and hope that some heat would rise into the sauce? Or did you just hope that by putting it in a black bottle some sort of placebo effect would take place? Your extra extra hot sauce is a sham and a fraud. I am not mad with you Nandos, I am disappointed. When my young people leave your restaurant with dry eyes but a grieved heart, I hope you feel satisfied.