Sunday, April 27, 2008

The light , the heat

Here are some important facts to know before my story:

1. I love spicy food. I put hot peppers in just about everything I cook. My peppers of choice are the serrano, habanero, and jalapeño. Jalapeños are not super hot, but often provide just the right kick to my cooking.

2. Capsaicin (8-Methyl-N-vanillyl-trans-6-nonenamide) is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.

Capsaicin molecule

Capsaicin is concentrated in the veins and ribs of chili peppers, and therefore these ribs (and consequently the seeds, which are in constant contact with the ribs) contain the bulk of the heat of the peppers.

3. I have a bit of an issue with eyes. I could never have contacts because I don't think I could put my finger in my eye every day. I cannot watch medical shows that show close-ups of eyeballs. I have long eyelashes, and quite often one falls off into my eyeball, and this to me is excruciating.

So today I was making some chili. As I was chopping the jalapeños with my superb knife skills, a jalapeño seed shot up from under my knife, swooped down through the top of my glasses, and lodged itself in my left eye. Immediately I knew I was in trouble, and immediately the burning sensation began. But as I said, I hate things in my eye, so not only was I freaking out that I had something in my eye, but that that something was a small acid-bomb. And oh, the burning kept on. I spun around to the sink and started trying to splash water into my eye, but by now, the seed had lodged itself between my eyeball and my eyelid. So this capsaicin pebble was stuck, spreading its fiery evil to my whole eyeball.

At this point, I was nervous. But I knew what I had to do. Through my one good eye, I spotted the extendable spray nozzle of the kitchen sink. Keep in mind that the mere thought of spraying a jet of water directly at my eyeball makes me uneasy. But I had to get this little Mexican demon out. Adding to the problem was the fact that I could not keep my fire-infected eye open. So with my left hand, I forced my eye open, and with my right hand, I turned on the sprayer. And I shot that water right into my eye. And though I dreaded every second of this orb-bound torrent, I knew I had to get through it.

So after several spray treatments, the seed came out. Now, a couple of hours later, my eye is feeling okay. It still burns a bit, but I'll be fine. I am glad I did not cook with habaneros tonight.


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

wow. that sounds truly awful. i had a bad experience with some dried chili peppers once, so I can sympathize a little. It was significantly less horrible, I handled some dried chili peppers and then rubbed my eyes. that was like ten years ago though.

At 10:43 PM, Blogger Jason posited...

I was surprised and a little excited to see a molecule diagram at the top of the page. Your story didn't disappoint, either.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

Hot Damn!

At 12:48 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

Although I wear contacts sometimes, I too have eye issues. For example, my eyes try to start watering during any allergy commercial.

This story was like waiting for excruciating eye-torture in a suspenseful movie-like horror film way.


At 3:02 AM, Blogger Josh posited...

man peppers are lethal. i was making some salsa one day and got fucking chemical burns on my hands from the hot pepper juice. ruined my new year's

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Matt posited...

Owww. I too have sensitive eyes and that story just made me cry. I love spicy food, but no matter how much I wash my hands after chopping habaneros, it seems like there's always a bit left and it always gets into my eye up to an hour later. Annoying. Actually, capsaicin is not particularly harmful, just painful. Check out the mechanism of capsaicin pain here,

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Pammy posited...

yeah that time on new years that josh got chemical burns on his hands and i had to bring him to the emergency room taught me a lot of important caution about cooking with peppers.

your eye story is horrifying.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

not gonna lie, when i read this post the story about josh and the chemical burns on his hands popped right into my head.

i remember having to call my dad to try to figure out what to do about josh's hands. i think we even tried putting butter or baking soda or something on them. oh gosh. that probably had to have been one of the most memorable new years i have had yet.

At 11:16 PM, Blogger constant_k posited...

I always manipulate the peppers I am chopping with a hand wrapped in a plastic bag. When I'm done I throw the bag away and carefully wash the knife and cutting board to avoid any skin/pepper juice contact.

I also wear goggles and a helmet and close the blinds real tight.

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

wait i remember now. we had him put his hands in soy milk. i don't think it did anything.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger constant_k posited...


One time we tried to lure a stray dog with tofu pups. Extremely ineffective.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger constant_k posited...



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