|The Little Bitty Burger Barn Houston, TX|
One of my favorite activities, second to riding, is eating, and what better food to eat than the American staple: Hamburgers.
The humble hamburger has no specific origin. Hamburgers evolved in many different European nations simultaneously. As meat processing became more of an art in the east, so naturally did it move west. Fast forward a few hundred years and the corned beef and tar-tare steaks of European yore have evolved into something that has helped shape American culture since the 19th century.
Simple enough; the hamburger, ground beef, formed into a slightly cylindrical circle and grilled to taste. Out of the hamburger’s utilitarian roots grew the backbone of the fast food industry, and due to its ubiquity, about an hours minimum wage can score you one of these tasty cultural icons.
There are millions of joints pedaling hamburgers which naturally fosters a competitive rivalry among its creators. Hamburgers are not rocket science, ergo, it’s no wonder anyone with some beef and a barbecue fancies themselves a chef; however, there is a true art to preparing a burger that stands out in a crowd and a near cult following of those who do.
With 2 wheels beneath me and a crisp 20, I decided my hunger was worth more than just satiating at some super franchise, I went in search, of a best burger.
Turning to my smarty phone, I was pointed in the direction of...
Drum roll please...
The “Little Bitty Burger Barn”
Now this isn't a biography, so I'm not going to throw any boring facts at you, nor am I going to try to explain why the owners have seen fit to hang 2 Arizona Cardinal banners on the wall. What I will do is offer my subjectively objective experience at this Houstonian fábrica de delicias.
Surprisingly enough, the Little Bitty Burger Barn offers a large variety of hamburgers, several of which have cute names like “Juicy Lucy” or “The Big Juan”. Seeing that I was smitten for something uber hot but not jackassticly hot, I set my sights on “The Big Juan”, a half pound patty stuffed with jalapenos and served with all the standard operating procedures. A patty really doesn't do it justice, it was more a miniature loaf than a patty and nearly 2 inches thick in the center.
Now this, was a best burger, and I loved every atherosclerotic bite; however this BLOG entry is not about the Big Juan. The reason that my travel to the Little Bitty Burger Barn was so noteworthy?
The 5 alarm fire burger challenge.
The Little Bitty Burger Barn, as featured on the Food Network, not only has a reputation for making good burgers they boast being the birthplace of the “Charlie’s 5 Alarm Fire Burger” -touted the hottest hamburger in Texas. Watch the clip below and see just how jackassticly spicy this burger is.
Meet Jay Hengtgen, co-owner of the LBBB and burgerologist-in-chief, Jay created “Nitro Sauce” which is liberally applied to the 5 alarm burger. Though Jay is an amiable man on the surface, I sense he takes great pleasure in burning peoples faces off.
Enter David So, the sole reason this went from enjoyable lunch, to epic experience.
David is 30, of average build, and fancies himself able to handle any scoville unit thrown his way. David tells me that when it comes to eating large quantities of food he is old hat. David reports, on separate occasions, the successful consumption of 2 super monster burritos from Freebirds, no small feat considering they weigh in around 3 pounds each.
David tells me he was looking for a food challenge close by and came up with the LBBB’s 5 alarm by proxy. David watches Man v Food and figures why should Adam Richman have all the fun. David reports he can eat up to 5 pounds of food in a day, he wants to work out, but like me, always feels starting tomorrow would be best.
“When it comes to eating spicy foods, it boils down to what age you first tried them.
I had a problem with my stomach and had to stop eating spicy foods for a while, I no longer feel any symptoms and feel compelled to find out what I can handle” states Mr. So. He has an air of confidence about him -despite the disclaimer he was made to sign prior to the 5 alarm's construction.
Until its arrival...
Presenting the burger: David is read his last rights and given some strongly advised safety tips.
With the dawning of latex gloves so as not to saturate his skin with toxic chemical, the burger was placed before us; as the smells radiated from this satanic excrement, reality set in for poor David.
The look his face gives away David’s new respect for Charlies 5 Alarm Fire Burger.
A crowd started to gather as David removed the skewer and fished a tot out of the basket. I don’t believe David had this spectacle in mind when he set out for a nice solo eating challenge.
And then, without further delay, David dove in...
Near instant regret. Within the first minute of the first bite David was reeling in horror at the intensity of the heat. The ensuing chaos was not pretty, but fun to watch...
Tears of joy. David’s less than 10-minute eating ordeal consisted of a drink to bite ration of 3:1. Like a nurse to a surgeon, I wiped David’s face and brow from all the excessive lacrimation. We could all tell, David was not likely to finish his burger.
Soda offers little solace.
We ready the atropine and 2-PAM
And finally, the official conceit. David had endured enough.
Jay removes the 5 Alarm trophy, the little firefighter helmet that adorns every Charlies 5 Alarm Fire Burger served. Shame follows, as David laments about the severity of the challenge and his failure to complete.
Jay gives more advise and an after action review. David is told that there will be subsequent burnings in the following hours if not days. Poor David.
David reflects after disappearing to the bathroom for about 15 minutes. “I can feel it continue to burn in my stomach”. Not about to leave a festering pile of capsaicin in his belly, David ordered a Reuben Burger and states he wishes it would have been his first choice. David reports he is grateful he does not have to go back to work and looks forward to eating his second sandwich.
And there you have it. Houston's own, Little Bitty Burger Barn, a destination I will henceforth be frequenting. Stop in and say howdy to Ricardo and Jay, just don’t try to achieve fame by attempting the challenge...
Yes, lets not forget the motorcycle: