Who do you think is the sauciest?

Answer the simple question below to let us know which of our three “Election Special” sauces is the sauciest!
If you want to “put your money where your mouth is” as they say, visit our store page and use the code SURVEY to get a whopping 50% discount as a little thank you from the Chilli Devil!
You don’t have to give your name or email address, but if you do you will be entered into a free draw for a full set of all three sauces!
Simples.
Enjoy!

Saucy? Or not?

Create your own user feedback survey

The Easy, The Hard & The Impossible. Part 2. When Google says “turn left”, follow the donkey shit.

Weather forcasts are interesting here. Almost every day the weather app on my phone says rain / thunder. Almost every day a quick check of the hourly forcast shows a shower around lunchtime, and another in the evening. Sometimes they happen. I’ve only once got properly wet in Mexican rain…

So I woke up on Sunday feeling right back on form; Arturo’s tequila must have been good medicine! I decide to pursue what had been my plan for Thursday before I was laid low, namely to go Mexican waterfall hunting.

According to Google the Cascada Los Azules Tequila is a mere 43 minute stroll from the hotel. It even suggests it is possible to drive there. It sounds like a good way of burning off any remaining surplus blood sugars. The weather forcast indicates the usual lunchtime shower…
I head out through the barrio on the other side of highway 15, and soon I’m on a pot-holed dirt track through fields of Blue Weber Agave that will one day become tequila.

I feel a rush of satisfaction, this is what I wanted to see.
The track gets narrower, and rougher. It soon reaches the point where it is obvious that not even 4x4s come down here. I leave the agave plantation behind on my right hand side and the scenery changes to uncultivated scrubland.

The “path” deteriorates even further, essentially becoming a natural obstacle course.
“Turn right” says Google. Sure enough there is a path through the scrub, just wide enough to accommodate a human torso. I plunge in.

For a couple of hundred yards this alleyway through the scrub is actually easier to navigate than the “path” I just left. Then two things happen; as the ground underfoot changes and it begins to rain.

As the path begins to drop away down the side of the valley the rock underfoot becomes deeply rutted, every step a potential twisted ankle. The situation is made worse by the now steady rain. The rocks are becoming slippery. The route twists back and forth as it descends into the valley. Some of the switchbacks becoming more like bouldering exercises than walking. And a new hazard has appeared; regular dollops of donkey shit. Actually I’m no expert on donkey digestive detritus, but I’m guessing it’s donkey shit.

Time, perhaps to consider the situation I find myself in. I’m halfway (I reckon) down a steep, rocky, slippery valley side. On one side dense foliage clings to a near vertical face, on the other is a precipitous drop. The jumble of rocks between the two is rarely more than a couple of feet wide, and often less. My footwear (good quality chelsea boots) isn’t really up to the job and I’m now soaked to the skin. On the other hand, the views are spectacular…

Logic suggests abandonment. But that smacks of defeat. I started this, I decide, and I’ll damn well finish it. That British bulldog spirit again; an innate ability to compensate for one’s lack of resources with a stiff upper lip and boundless recklessness. I press on.

After a little while the going gets a little easier again. A young Mexican family pass me going in the opposite direction, soaked to the skin in their shorts and t-shirts, their agility like mountain goats to my lumbering old bull.
“Turn left” says Google. There is no obvious left turn here. I press on another few yards, and sure enough a small gap appears in the foliage on my left. The path, such as it is, seems to peter out into a wall of scrub after just a few paces. I check my phone again. It appears to be frozen, still telling me to turn left.
I study the ground. The path I am on is still liberally decorated with donkey shit. The path to the left is not. I opt to follow the donkey shit. The route is much less steep now, and I am soon rewarded – I can hear my destination! Five minutes later I am sat beside the river, just downstream of the falls. Google’s projected 43 minutes has taken me two and a half hours – much of it spent navigating the worst terrain I have ever “walked”. I am exhausted to the point of retching, my thighs are in agony. I am drenched. And I still have to find my way back, without Google’s help ‘cos my phone has gone on strike. None of it matters, I said I would do this today, and I did it.

Anyway, going uphill is easier in a sense – I reckon if necessary I can do the more difficult sections on all fours. The only thing that worries me is all that donkey shit…

The Easy, The Hard & The Impossible. Part 1.

There are many things we take for granted in modern life, because they are so easily achieved. Take buying a newspaper for instance; much easier than say, finding a doctor in a foreign country on a Saturday afternoon. But things don’t always work out that way.
I arrived in Tequila on Tuesday evening, and spent Wednesday familiarising myself with the area around my hotel. On Thursday, I felt dreadful. I had no energy, a tight chest and a headache. I was wiped out to the point I feared I had suffered another embolism. Friday was no better; I must have looked pretty rough too. When I ventured from my hotel room for food and drink (well, drink, I had little appetite), the reception staff got me to talk to an English speaking colleague on the phone. “Are you OK? Do you need a doctor?”, “I’ll be fine, I’m just having a bad day, gracias”. British bulldog spirit! More of that later…
Saturday brought a little respite, and with it some common sense. If I had had another errant blood clot, it made sense to get myself checked over. But how does one find a doctor in Mexico on a Saturday afternoon? I ask at reception “Lo siento, yo necesito un medico por favor”.
“Si, no problemo”, and I am waved to a seat where I begin to catch up with world events via my phone (the hotel wifi is useless beyond reception).
Just a few minutes later I hear the wailing of a siren. To my acute embarrassment the flashing red and blue lights come to a halt outside the hotel, and two paramedics come rushing in. Apparently finding “un medico” in Tequila on a Saturday afternoon is surprisingly easy…
Ten minutes later they are on their way again. I am reassured that my blood pressure and heart rate are fine, but my blood sugar levels are off the scale. That’s OK, I can self-medicate for that. I drink copious amounts of water, eat some melon and yoghurt, and force myself to exercise.I start by seeing if I can find any American newspapers in Tequila – afterall they have American tourists. I have no luck, in fact I can find no newspapers on sale in Tequila (and never did!), but I do discover Arturo’s bar, where the genial Arturo is delighted to help me explore Tequila’s national drink. Traditional self-medication at it’s best. To be continued…

Mexican Pole Dancing

Saturday in Tequila, as in many places, is market day. I wander down to the town square by the magnificent cathedral. In truth the market isn’t much beyond a couple of rows of stalls mainly dedicated to tourist trinkets, but something else catches my eye. A handful of men in traditional garb, looking suspiciously like Mexican Morris dancers. “This could be interesting” I think.
Even as I select my vantage point they rise from their bench and gather round the base of a huge pole (was that there yesterday?) with ropes dangling from it. “Aah”, I say to myself, “more sort of Maypole dancing then; wonder if they’ll do with swords or something to make it more interesting?”

They don’t. Neither do they use the ropes. They dance slowly and purposefully to the sound of a whistle and a tiny drum played simultaneously by one of their number. I’m a tad disappointed by the lack of spectacle.
However, just as I think it’s all over, one of them starts to climb the pole. My interest is revived with interest.

At the top of the pole is rickety looking frame that turns out to be a sort of square roundabout. The climber starts rotating himself about the pole, whilst tidying one of the ropes. Another dancer follows him, and another, and another. In a couple of minutes there is a dancer sat on each side of the rickety square roundabout, and the music stops; while the musician climbs up to join them.
Now I’m really intrigued. Where is this guy going to sit? Yep, obvious really, he’s kind of like the fairy on the Christmas tree.
The music starts again and the rickety roundabout begins a slow gyration as the ropes wound around the top of the pole. Shortly thereafter, the musician stands up.

Stands up on the very top of a 30 meter high pole. There is no safety equipment here; no hard hats or hi-viz vests to help the accident investigators find your body on the unforgiving flagstones ninety eight and a half feet below. Definitely no safety harness. Health and Safety in the UK would be apoplectic. I find out later that even in easy-going Mexico, many places have banned this 450 year old ritual because of the number of injuries and deaths…
What happens next is spectacular. The other four climbers who have been gathering momentum on the rickety square roundabout, hurl themselves off backwards.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Each has tied one of the ropes around his waist and they fan out, upside down, and spiral downward as the ropes unwind from the pole, correcting their orientation at the last moment before landing, perfectly synchronised and perfectly evenly spaced about the pole.
Meanwhile the musician has played on, straight-backed from his lonely elevation. He doesn’t stop until the other four have unhitched themselves, then climbs down. He looks older than me, but maybe he’s just afraid of heights…

History bit (paraphrased from Wikipedia)

The “Dance of the Flyers” is an ancient Mesoamerican ceremony/ritual still performed today, albeit in modified form, in isolated pockets in Mexico and Guatemala. It is believed to have originated with the Nahua, Huastec and Otomi peoples in central Mexico, and then spread throughout most of Mesoamerica.

According to Totonac myth, the ritual was created to ask the gods to end a severe drought.

The simple things in life.

I could grow to love this place. Many of you will be familiar with my penchant for keeping things as simple as possible. Mexicans seem to share that attitude.
Take the roads for example. There are no give way lines or stop lines on the junctions. There are no pelican crossings – unnecessary or otherwise. The streets are not cluttered with signage like they are in the uk either. Most urban streets seem to be one way, and it took me a while to suss out how you tell which way they run, other than noting the direction all the parked cars are facing. Look carefully at the top pic, see the little arrows above the street names?
The only traffic lights I’ve seen so far were on the highway close to Cancun airport. Overtaking can be done either side of the vehicle in front, and lane discipline seems to consist of basically not hitting anyone else whilst changing lanes. At junctions you just work your way into the traffic stream. At particularly busy (or tricky?) ones on the highways there are speed bumps close to the turning; serious speed bumps that you are definitely going to slow down for regardless of what you’re driving.
In urban areas the only speed bumps are some of the occasional pedestrian crossings. The same applies; hell, some of the kerbstones in Tequila are 18 inches high…
The net result is you have to pay attention to the job of driving. And as far as I’ve seen, it appears to work.

This relaxed, (but attentive) attitude seems to permeate all aspects of driving. It’s not unusual to see people riding in the back of pick up trucks, or whole families on a motorbike, kids squashed between parents, not a crash hat between them. Then there are the mobile adverts; not mobile hoardings such as we see at home, but vehicles (yeah, usually battered old pick ups) with loud speakers playing adverts for who knows what. The UK noise police would have heart attacks; here it’s just one more aspect of a bustling, thriving, but chilled out city.

Addendum: I’ve just watched a young woman in a battered old Toyota turn the wrong way into a one-way street – then force her way across the oncoming traffic to park on the forecourt of the first building on the left. Not only do I think that she knew exactly what she was doing, I think everyone else knew too! In the UK such action would no doubt produce a torrent of horn blowing and abuse. In Tequila it warranted no more than a gently shaken head and a couple of smiles…

Safety first

“In a safe area of downtown Cancun” said the advert. My apartment isn’t so much “downtown” as “out of town”.
I spent a couple of hours exploring the area this evening. It appears to be a largely residential grid hewn out of otherwise inpenetrable woodland. The street parallel to mine is tarmaced, and has the occasional street light. The rest are unlit and characterised by pot holes that even the biggest 4x4s drive carefully around. There are no pavements, nor indeed any pedestrians. There are lots of compounds with imposing gates and high walls, often topped with razor wire. And there are security guards. And dogs. Loud, vicious sounding dogs. It’s obviously a very safe area if you’re the right side of the walls…
The restaurant on the edge of that area that I was looking for was closed by the time I got there, just after 7pm. Another telling sign methinks. The evening is drawing in rapidly by now. I decide to stick to that one tarmaced road, because I know that at the other end of it I’ll come to Alfred.V.Bonfil, and if I turn right I’ll be about a mile from the Amma Food Park Experience again. Not only that, but this (main) road does have a pedestrian pathway – albeit down the middle of the wide central reservation, which can only be reached by braving the onrushing traffic!
Shoulders back, chin up, stride out. My body language says “Bring it on”; I figure it’s the only defence I’ve got.

The view from the other end of my street, in daylight!

The route takes me past the end of my street. My apartment is 10 minutes walk down that darkened opening in the pic at the top of this post.
I’m no wuss, but I think after a couple of beers tonight, I’ll splash out and get a taxi back to my nice safe apartment.

Jesus has heeled my boots!

Jesus has heeled my boots!
I spotted the local cobbler while meandering through Mercado 28.

I was in two minds but I hadn’t had time to get my boots heeled before leaving Hull, and like any good market trader Jesus spotted my hesitation as an opportunity, and invited me into his workshop. Feeling vaguely honoured I ventured into Jesus’s inner sanctum. He was clearly a busy man; so busy he hadn’t had time to clean up in years. The floor was filthy – conveniently matching the walls and the furniture. Scraps of material / leather / rubber littered every surface that wasn’t covered in shoes. Nice shiny shoes, shoes desperately in need of serious repair, and shoes in every imaginable intermediate condition. I suspect Jesus has a sideline in re-manufacturing shoes abandoned by their original owners. I want to ask him, but I think I lack the linguistic agility I need.
We haggle briefly, and a price is agreed. Jesus points me to a chair and for my benefit redirects one of the big floor-standing fans that are obviously covering for the broken air conditioner.
Watching Jesus at work is fascinating. Having ripped the heels off my boots he reaches for the sheet of thick rubber he showed me earlier, and carves off a chunk with what looks more like a scalpel than a knife. He dips his fingers in an open jar of what must be contact adhesive and spreads it liberally on boots and repair material.
Conveniently, at this moment an important looking man with an even more important looking folder in his hands appears. The conversation must have been just long enough for the adhesive to dry; big lump of rubber is slapped on one heel and the excess carved off and slapped on t’other. It looks slapdash. But a few deft strokes of the scalpel and a couple of minutes on the machine in the corner, and my boots are as good as new.
Jesus has heeled my boots; amen.

Seasoning for the Heart

Breakfast Mexican style! With ham, bacon, chorizo, spinach, cheese, mushrooms. Served with soft warm tortillas, a bread roll, orange juice, coffee and three types of chilli dip – all for around a fiver.

I’m at Casa de Nana, in Mercado 28. Cancun’s famous downtown market is a riot of crafts, colours, fragrances and food choices. Casa de Nana’s strapline, “sazón de corazón” translates effectively as “seasoning for the heart”; I couldn’t put it better.

Actually breakfast wasn’t my first experience of Mexican food. Last night I wandered the mile or so from my apartment to the Amma Food Park Experience, a permanent street food market with big screen sport / film nights, music (lots of indie rock playing over the sport last night) and a bar. The choice ranged from pizza or burgers to Argentinian or Venezuelan specialities. I went for a huge Argentinian sausage baguette (with chilli dips) and a couple of bottles of Modelo Negra.

I’ve never seen anything quite like the Amma Food Park Experience at home, though to be fair, the revamped Trinity Market is definitely a step in the right direction.

I so wish I had a bigger appetite!

Feast Nights are back!

Feast Nights are back! Starting Wednesday 12th June, @ 7.30pm for 8.00pm.
Our menu this month will be:
Starter:
Salmon Ceviche with chipotle and orange.
Served on a bed of fresh salad leaves with salsa and guacamole.
Main:
Pork stuffed with orange and pistachios Served with chilli bubble & squeak, mixed mushrooms and bacon wrapped asparagus, with an orange and tequila sauce.
Dessert:
Orange & tequila sorbet.

Tickets ordered online (here) will be available for collection at the bar (you will receive confirmation of your booking via email)

Chilli Devil’s Bar
11a Manor Street
HU1 1YP
(We’re just beyond The Land of Green Ginger, between The George and The Burlington Tavern, opposite the side of Essex House).

PS. Fancy a free Sunday lunch? Sign up for a chance of winning one (or two even!)
https://tiny.cc/freelunch

Traditional Sunday Lunch @ Chilli Devil’s – Chilli Devil’s

SPECIAL OFFER – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
As from this coming Sunday we will be offering traditional Sunday roast dinners! That’s going to make it interesting in our tiny kitchen… so, we’re planning a dry run (a stress test?) for Friday 25th January. All we need is a few of you lovely people to come and enjoy some DISCOUNTED roast beef or roast lamb! Just £4 on Friday for a roast dinner with all the trimmings! (Normally £7.50 / £8.50)

Book either day on our widget!