"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

25 July 2011

I'll Take Mild Sauce, Thanks

The other day, I made a pot roast. K bought potatoes, carrots, and onions to go with it, but I used only a small portion of them. So I decided to cook the rest in the leftover broth, mash them up, and freeze them in one-meal portions.

The carrots were bubbling away in the broth, I'd cut up the onions and was getting ready to start on the potatoes -- both to go in later since they take less time to cook -- when K pointed to the two small, brilliant orange-red peppers the neighbors had given us, and said, "Hey, you could put those in."

I'm not much of a pepper person as a rule; bell peppers on pizza are about as daring as I get. If you bring stronger than mild salsa into my house for chips, you're welcome to it. So I demurred: "I thought you said they're hot; I want to be able to eat this, too."

"I don't know that they're hot; I'll find out." He cut off the tiny tip of one, chewed on it for awhile, and pronounced it no more hot than bell peppers. Well, okay, then. As long as they were small and bland, I could handle some pepper in the potatoes and carrots.

Holding the peppers in my left hand, I sliced and de-seeded and diced them, then scooped them up, also with my left hand, and dumped them in with the carrots. They were small; it didn't take long. Then I licked the juice off my fingers (and must have licked my lips immediately after).

Two seconds later, I said, "These are too hot." Five seconds later I was running cold water over my hands and very nearly screaming for ice. K came in, baffled, remarked again that the bit he'd eaten earlier hadn't been hot. Had I bitten into a seed, maybe? No, I had not; I had licked the juice from my fingers.

He took a bit from the pot, put it in his mouth, and almost instantly spit it out, horrified. He poured soap over my hands, got me ice, got me ice cream, got himself a popsicle. He took the pan outside and dumped out all those lovely carrots in that savory broth, then cleaned the pan, the knife I'd used, the chopping board, assiduously. Meanwhile I continued running ice cubes over my tongue and lips, moaning. I washed my hands, again and again, afraid to touch anything for fear of contaminating it with that flaming juice. I wiped my hands on my apron only, then threw it into the wash.

Two hours later, the fire in my tongue and lips had mostly abated. I accidentally touched the corners of my eyes with my fingertips and ran for the eyedrops; thankfully, I'd barely touched them before I thought and they only burned mildly for a few seconds. I wondered, seriously, if I'd have been blinded if I'd touched them earlier.

The worst pain gone, I began to realize that the fingers of my left hand were burning. Examining them closely, I found they had actually blistered from the pepper juice. If I touched them to my tongue, my tongue burned again. All night they burned; they still burned when I got up this morning. Only now, 16+ hours later, are they beginning to feel almost normal, the blisters receding, the burning relieved.

Who said beauty isn't dangerous?


Sprell Paragon said...

Wow! What kind of peppers were they?

Millie said...

That is one intense cooking story. Also, reinforcing why I stay far away from peppers!

Beth Impson said...

Millie, you are wise! :)

Sprell Paragon -- I don't know but I've added a picture my husband took of them before they nearly killed me. :) They are very small; the smaller one not much bigger than a quarter, I believe. Thanks for visiting -- do I know you, maybe from the college?

Crystal said...

Wow. It's crazy that your hand blistered! They look like habaneros (also known as Scotch Bonnet) to me. They use these for hot sauce in Jamaica which, I know from experience, in tiny minuscule amounts can cause your tongue to go numb.

I'm with you and Millie. I stay away from most peppers at all times. I like the taste of things cooked with bell peppers, but I tend to take the actual pepper part out after cooking.