He slowly pulls the blue rubber gloves onto his hands. First the right, then the left. Tugging
his fingers all the way into the gloves, he makes sure they’re tightly secure. He pauses and takes a deep breath.
Then he picks up the piece of hot chicken.


With long tables ideal for family-style seating both inside and outside, Royal’s Hot Chicken,
located at 736 E Market St, provides dangerous levels of spice. The levels range from no heat to
“gonzo,” which comes with two blue rubber gloves and a glass of milk.
As a spice wuss, I decided to try the medium spiced tenders. Coming from the West, hot
chicken was a completely new experience to me. When I bit into the tenders, they were well-
cooked and perfectly flavored. In one bite, hot chicken became one of my favorite foods. The
spice bloomed as I chewed, adding to the flavor but not completely consuming my palate.
Each chicken tender dish at Royal’s comes with your choice of a side and a dipping
sauce. Served on blue checkered paper, the chicken sits on top of a piece of bread that soaks up
the extra spice from the chicken. For vegetarians, Royal’s offers crispy tofu as a substitute for
any chicken dish.


Royal’s serves a range of drinks from milkshakes served in mason jars to bourbon
slushies. Five minutes after we walked in for dinner at 5pm on a Wednesday, the line squirmed
out the door.


I looked across the table at my friends across the table who had been eating the Gonzo
chicken. Sweat was dripping from their foreheads and tears were resting, dried, on their
cheeks.


I had to try it.


When I first took a bit of the Gonzo, it tasted just like the medium spiced chicken I’d been
eating. I felt pretty satisfied with myself as someone who can’t deal well with spice. I was
handling it impeccably.


A few seconds later, my eyes were watering. I was coughing as I slurped down my
milkshake. The spice was temporarily halted by the cool milk, but as soon as I stopped drinking
it came back, even stronger.


Consider my palate consumed.

Samara Angel is a freelance writer for xpLouisville. A rising junior at Yale University, she has had fiction published in campus publications and recently was a recipient of the Wallace Prize for fiction. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Samara is spending the summer in Louisville, and is passionate about the arts and outdoors.