It is not often I can say I am lost for words, but something I put in my mouth today shut me up good and proper.
A mysterious red box made its way around the Daily Express newsroom, this often happens as the regular flow of freebies from PR companies comes in during the course of an average day.
We get cakes, face creams, sweets, even a bottle of balance active vaginal gel once landed on my desk, I usually try most things but on that occasion I was unable to give it a go.
Inside today’s box was a pair of rubber gloves, goggles, a bottle of ginger ale, a shot glass, and a small tube of something that looked like fake blood.
All the ingredients, I learned, to make the world’s spiciest cocktail – The Brick lane Burner.
And the phial contained 12ml of “killer” chilli extract.
Now, having come from a part-Indian background, I consider myself to be a bit of a chilli connoisseur.
I am the one who munches calmly through a vindaloo, asking the waiter for some extra chilli sauce as my dining companions choke and splutter on the chicken korma.
I beg restaurant owners abroad not to hold back on the chilli, much to their protestations, fearful of being sued by a wimpy foreigner not used to the heat.
So when this box came my way – I thought nothing of dipping my finger in and having a go.
Killer?- Ha! - it hasn’t met my taste buds.
Ignoring the warnings of my colleagues, sitting at their desks with streaming eyes swigging milk, I took the merest hint of a spec of the liquid on my little finger, wiped it on my tongue and waited for the result.
There was a moment of pleasant relief as I tasted that familiar chilli taste, the faint warming of my mouth.
I did it! I am clearly the toughest and hardest of the Daily Express news team. Ok, it was hot but you don’t see me whimpering and begging for the pain to end.
The moment of bravado was short-lived. I began to feel the burn creep into my mouth, within seconds I was convinced my brain was being pressure-cooked out of my head.
Ok, Ok, I agree – it’s HOT.
Had I read the label properly I would have seen the red juice I had just daubed in my mouth was 12,000,000 scoville chilli extract.
The scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin (spicy bit) present.
To put it in perspective, one of the hottest chillies known to man, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, has a scoville value of 855,000.
US law enforcement grade pepper spray, illegal in the UK, has a value of 1,500,000. This stuff is around six times more potent than the stuff they spray in hardened criminals faces to make them collapse to the ground a quivering wreck.
Two minutes later and I can honestly say I have never felt anything like it. My mouth was on fire, and I joined the ranks of colleagues swigging from the milk bottle on my desk.
As my eyes streamed I made the mistake of wiping my tears with the same hand I had used to inoculate my mouth with this killer chilli extract.
Within seconds my face was on fire and a trip to the bathroom was in order.
I bumped into a colleague who, although had the sense to say no to the chilli challenge, had inadvertently handled the big red box and was frantically mopping his eyes complaining his lips were burning.
I also realised at this point it was only the blokes in the office who were willing to dip their fingers in and give it a go, there was a sensible refusal from the female element of the office - there’s something telling in that.
I spent the next 15 minutes feeling like a badly rehearsed fire-eating amateur auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent.
And thanking God I didn’t mix up the chilli extract with the vaginal gel.
The box contained all the ingredients to make a Brick Lane Burner. I haven’t tried whole glass but I would concede the claim to be the world’s spiciest cocktail.
You can try one at The Vibe Bar (www.vibe-bar.co.uk), in London's curry capital Brick Lane - go on I dare you.