Feel the Burn

I don’t usually cook with chiles, but spices and herbs are an area where I could stand to expand my repertoire, so I’m trying to experiment.

Last night I made mole with jalapeños.  I would say my spice-tolerance is well above average for a WASP who grew up in the Midwest US, but below average for say… anyone else. Let’s put it this way: when they pass around the picante (hot sauce) at a meal in Guatemala, and they say “no, no pica” (no, it’s not spicy), I laugh and pass on it anyway.

I removed the seeds from the jalapeños, because those are the hottest part of the fruit. The rest of the fruit is sweet-ish when cooked (think jalapeño- poppers), so I chopped it up and sautéed it with some onions and garlic.

Without pause, I moved on to grind up the dried chile de arbol I bought at the store the other day. I’ve been searching for them for months! They’re more smokey than spicy, so I thought they would be nice instead of the paprika my recipe called for.

Chop chop chop, grind grind grind.

I was standing in the kitchen and chatting with one of my roommates and my other roommate’s girlfriend, and absent-mindedly rubbed my eyes.


That was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I thought I was going to go blind.

I stood over the sink, where I had ever-so-conveniently discarded the jalapeño seeds, spashing my face with water.  Standing that way also allowed me to inhale jalapeño seed-fumes. Not cool.

After about 15 minutes (it felt like an eternity) of spashing my face with water, my eyes no longer felt like someone was rubbing sand into them. The rest of my face, however, felt strangely warm.

Lesson learned: wash your hands immediately after handling hot peppers. And you might want to exfoliate, too. With sand paper.

16 hours later, and my hands still produce a vague burning sensation when I rub my eyes.


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