Regional attitudes towards heat
Where are you from and what is the typical person's expectation for heat in food from your area? How high are the tolerances?
Florida, generally low. Sad, because I like lots of heat and it's hard to find a restaurant that satisfies.
I am from Southern IN where the heat tolerance is moderate when something spicy is being served, but in general that is not really part of the cuisine there. Currently I live in FL where, as the previous poster said, it seems to be somewhat low, but I have not been around enough yet to have a solid opinion.
Ahh, living in Southern California, you get a bit of everything. When I'm feeling spicy, there's Indian, Korean, Thai, anything you want. I like spicy food and sadly, most places just aren't hot. I don't mean dousing it in Tabasco, but a nice kick can enhance a lot of different foods. I'm not against pouring some sriracha in my pho, though.
You'll have a tough time nailing down what the general taste in a place as diverse as LA is, so I won't try.
Fourteen years in the Philippines, 14 years in Colombia. Two countries in which one chili serves 60,000 people for a week. Thankfully I work all over the place. Best are where heat is integrated into the food (rather than added later)--Thailand, Laos, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Mexico, some Vietnamese food, parts of China, India, Ghana.
In the Pacific Northwest pretty low unless you venture into the International District. Even then you have to taunt them to make things hot if you are fair skinned because they think you can't handle it.
Some of the Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants here will pack on the heat if you ask for it and say you want it really spicy.