A caveat and warning beforehand. It's possible I will use terms like 'bland' and stuff and that may give some implications that what I'm referring to isn't delicious. This is not the case. I'm mostly referring to burning and the spicy pain in this post. Also, any quotes are, of course, paraphrased but will get the gist right.
By Hillary's own description, she was a meat and potatoes girl growing up. To be fair, this wasn't much different from my own upbringing either. Neither of us was exposed to any spicy foods greater than 'mild' and I think it's possible Hillary never really went that far.
During my years at Carleton I did develop a taste for spicier things. Hillary, in her years at Queens, did not. My cooking, which was targetted to both of us, was rarely spicy in any meaningful way. If it was, I would try hard to add just a touch, but not enough to cause actual discomfort.
Some of our go-to take out options included thai and, later, indian. We'd generally end up ordering three dishes on a take out night. A mild curry of some form, a mild noodle or rice dish, and a third random other dish that was 'medium'.
This worked well and if the medium one that I had ordered mostly for myself was delicious enough, I'd suggest Hillary try a small bit as it was tasty. I'd give lots of warning as to how spicy it was. I'm not one to get joy out of the pain of others unless they inflict it upon themselves knowingly.
One night when Hillary was a couple months pregnant with Isaac, we ordered indian. We got our usual breakdown of dishes and for the spicier one, I ordered a lamb curry.
It arrived and everything was delicious. I suggested to Hillary she should try a bit of the lamb. It wasn't super spicy, but it had some real heat. She took a bit.
Then after a minute or two, did something she never did. She took more. Then ignored the mild curry we had also ordered.
"I think this kid likes spicy food."
"We can start ordering medium more often now."
This would continue past the pregnancy. From this point onwards, Hillary would go for a moderately spicy dish and often would request that we stay away from mild. Neither of us really liked super hot and my threshold was a bit higher than hers, but a proper 'medium' from most indian places just about hit our sweet spot. At the Siddarth Grill, a favourite of ours in White Rock, the step between mild and medium was our happy place.
It wasn't until Isaac was eating the same dinner as us every night that we started to scale back the spice. This was probably an year and a half after the initial discovery. As these things do, Hillary's tolerance would go down somewhat. She'd always appreciate a bit of burn in a tasty dish from that point onwards, however.
Isaac could handle a tiny bit of spicy pain in his earlier years. Paige, on the other hand, could not at all. At that point, we went to mostly bland almost all of the time. That was okay, but Hillary and I both felt a tiny bit of sadness that some of our staples had changed a bit.
It made cooking and sharing some of my favourite dishes way more fun.