Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beware of the Jalapeno

I made salsa last night. Now I’ve never made my own salsa before mainly because I don’t think it necessary to make something that you could already buy very inexpensively in a jar. However, my workplace is having a salsa competition and in the spirit of camaraderie I thought I could whip something up. I chopped the onions, the tomatoes, the cilantro, the green pepper, the red pepper and the jalapeno pepper. I was very proud of myself.

Ten minutes later I notice a strange burning sensation in the cuticles of my thumbs. I licked them, I don’t know why, just a reflex reaction I guess and my entire tongue goes numb. So I’m just thinking that I didn’t wash my hands well enough and there are still some residuals from the peppers. I go wash my hands thoroughly again. After I dry them off the burning sensation is even worse and has now spread to every finger and the palms of my hands. I don’t dare pick anything up or touch anything because the pressure on my flesh makes the pain soar.

So now I’m freaking out that the residual pepper oil will be transferred to my baby when I touch her. I’m envisioning her somehow getting my hand in her mouth (which is not all that far fetched since she’s teething and will chew on anything) and being desperately ill for the rest of the evening. The good news is that if I ever decide to commit a crime I’ll have no fingerprints to leave at the scene because they’ve been burnt off.

I call my friend, she suggests soaking in milk. So I soak them in milk and get instant relief. However, since I do have 2 children to attend to I can’t exactly sit with my hands in milk all night so soon after my mini milk bath the burning returns.

After I get the kids to bed I consult the self-treatment bible; the internet. I discover that I’m not alone. It seems that this sort of thing happens quite often and in varying degrees. One poor fellow had the misfortune of taking a piss after cutting some jalapeno and let’s just say another appendage was burning besides his fingers. One gal took her contacts out after handling some peppers and her eyes were watering for a full day.

Most of the suggestions on the internet pointed towards dairy products. It counters the oil in the pepper or something. Yogurt is highly recommended. So there I was soaking my hands in a vat of strawberry Yoplait, and wondering how this occurred. I mean where was the FDA on this one? They label everything else, “this product may contain nuts”, “not for human consumption”, “do not take orally” . . . nobody could smack a sticker on that jalapeno that says “wear skin protection while cutting”. I mean cans of spray paint are labeled “do not spray in eyes”. Diaper rash crème is labeled “for external use only” I mean these things are obvious – they don’t even need labels and yet there are killer jalapeno’s out there with no warnings!

Thankfully the yogurt helped and I’m pretty much cured. There is still a little lingering burning sensation now and again but I think I’ll survive and I’ve learned a valuable lesson: If you ever need to give some nasty payback to somebody, slice open a jalapeno and rub it on their toilet seat.

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