Sauced
September 23, 2009

I tried it.  I had to.

We are covering the case of a (now-former) Miami-Dade teacher charged with child abuse, accused of giving two of her autistic students hot sauce-spiked soda.  She took the stand in her own defense today and said that the spiked soda was her soda, she loves to drink her soda with hot sauce, and those children took a sip of her soda by accident.  Here’s exactly what she said on the stand:

“I love it… That’s our culture. We eat hot sauce a lot…  My soda, my food, my salad…”

After hearing that, how could I hope to offer a full and fair report without the essential understanding that comes from first-hand experience.

Admittedly, this was not scientific.  I have no idea just how much hot sauce she put in the can of soda, how much of a gulp the students may have taken.  I didn’t have Luzianne, her sauce of record, so I had to go with what was in the fridge, which was Crystal brand.  I aimed a few shakes of it into a half glass of Mountain Dew, the only soda I found in the house, which was all but flat since someone didn’t twist the cap on the two-liter bottle all the way.

“I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink.”    

Full disclosure: I don’t like soda, never drink it.  And I love the more gringa versions of hot sauce, thanks to years of training by my husband, who has been known to throw a challenge to chefs at the Thai restaurant to make dinner too spicy for him.

And the verdict is…

… Not as bad as I expected.  I wouldn’t recommend hot sauced soda, mind you.  But I can see why, if you are the kind of spice-addicted pain-as-pleasure gastronome that I have met in some BBQ, Tex-Mex and/or Thai circles, you might like the little kick that a few dashes of pepper sauce adds to counter the sweet syrup of soda.

I can also see why a special needs child whose ability to communicate is challenged might freak out a bit if the soda he expected to taste left a slight but sudden burning sensation in the back of the throat.

Did teacher spike the soda to teach the kids a lesson, modify their behavior?  Would that meet the legal definition of child abuse?

And the verdict is…

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