A Day at the Beach - No, I didn't go to the beach. But getting that bad tooth pulled Friday seemed like a day at the beach, compared to suffering the pain I'd been in from it. ...
Habaneros don’t keep well, so stores are often out. When Market of Choice didn’t have any today, I asked the produce manager about something he did have that was labeled “red-hot cherry bombs.” He said they were hotter than habaneros and offered me a slice. It might as well have been a jalapeño. I then biked over to Plaza Latina but they too were out. The Hispanic produce lady assured me that she had something even hotter in the back. She brought a green, globe-shaped pepper for me to sample. I couldn’t understand what she called it, but I wasn’t about to let a dusky maiden from the land of fiery tamales think I was a wimpy gringo, so I ate it whole. Her eyes widened in anticipation of my screams, but again, I might as well have eaten a jalapeño. She disappeared into the back a second time and came out with what she called a Thai pepper. It was ominously small (like every hot pepper I’ve had), and I ate it whole too. Hotter than a habanero? Ounce for ounce, maybe. My stomach burned for two hours. Peppers eaten alone are in a different category than peppers eaten with other foods. I didn’t scream though.
I started eating habaneros a year ago because I read they were good for arthritis and for Raynaud’s (a circulatory problem affecting the extremities). The Oxford American defines them this way: “Habanero, a small chili pepper that is the hottest variety available.” At first, even a quarter inch section made my eyes water, my face turn red, and heat race across my scalp like flames through gasoline. But they grew on me. Now, I eat three with every meal and even take them to potlucks. I can’t say for sure that they helped the arthritis, but they’ve reduced the severity of the Raynaud’s by two-thirds.
I wash after I handle them but I still don’t dare put my hands near my face. I even hold myself gingerly when I pee, but I often end up with a fiery crotch anyway. Peggy burned herself just by drinking grape juice from my glass last night. The night before, she did it on a sweet potato that I peeled. A few days before that, a bite of my banana sent her running for the milk jug (milk neutralizes the capsaicin somewhat). Peggy is most decidedly not a fan of hot peppers.
Now, why would I enjoy something that hot? Well, like I said, habaneros don’t taste that hot to me anymore. Think of them as like coffee. If someone who never drinks caffeine has a cup of coffee, it will give him the jitters, but a heavy coffee drinker will scarcely notice the same amount. Peppers are also like coffee in that they have a psychoactive effect. I haven’t been able to find validation for this, but I can vouch for it from experience. Habaneros boosted my mood sufficiently that I even stopped taking Lexapro.
Posted by Snowbrush