July 26, 2008
A Cautionary Tale of Culinary Woe
Please friends, don't let this happen to you.

L's sister got married today (yea!). My job was to provide copious amounts of pinwheels, artichoke spinach dip, and jalapeno thingys.

I suppose I should have known things were going to be difficult when the Food and Drug Administration announced, the day before I went to buy 50 of them, that jalapenos were the source of the salmonella outbreak. Salmonella doesn't scare me, and I was cooking them anyway, so I found a local farmer that had some and stocked up. Last night (after returning from L's Granny's funeral), I washed all my peppers and started slicing and scooping out the insides. On about pepper number thirty, I started coughing up a storm. But I was almost done with the worst part, so I pressed on. I have stellar work ethic. By the time the last pepper was freed from its heinous insides, I was coughing so much I was gagging. I mean doubled over on the floor and seriously about to puke coughing and gagging. I guess I'm sensitive to that stuff in pepper spray.

I took a break before stuffing and wrapping my little pepper friends in bacon, and sat down to watch the news with L. I commented on how little microscopic cuts I had on my hands that I wasn't even aware of burned like the dickens. I suppose it is merciful that I didn't know what I was in for.

By the time I was about halfway through stuffing, my hands were bright, bright red, and hurt like, well, hell. Holy crap, did they ever hurt. I yelled at L to google burning pepper hands, and we discovered I was suffering from something called jalapeno hands. Such a cute little name for the most painful of disorders.

L suggested washing my hands in the hottest water I could stand, with dish washing liquid to cut the pepper oil. I did. Multiple times. Before long, the hottest water I could stand was from the cold tap, and it was nearly excruitiating. Then he suggested rubbing alcohol. This was quite soothing. Until the alcohol dried, and the searing pain returned. Next came a milk bath. Yeah, it didn't do much. Next came hydrocortisone cream. Nothing. A soak in white vinegar. It seemed to help. For about 15 minutes. I then spent the rest of the evening putting germx on my hands every 2 minutes. I think it is the coolness of the alcohol that makes it feel better. Or it could be the two chocolate martinis L made me. Either way, the pain was lessened enough that I was able to go to bed. With an icepack.

This morning, the pain seemed mostly diminished- until I got up and set to baking all my little peppers. I don't know if it was the blood returning to my hands after being asleep, touching the peppers again, or my hands just seeing the peppers and throwing a big old flaming fit of pain at such an injustice to their very being, but once I was up and around, the pain was pretty intense again. I spent the drive to the wedding with an icepack. Have I mentioned how much I love ice?

Please, don't touch peppers without gloves. I didn't know, but I promise you want to learn from my stupidity. Boy howdy, you really really want to learn from me.
Blogger cjoy said...
I have a helpful hint if it still bothers you at all...!

A couple weeks ago I was innocently attempting to make jalepeno cheese dip--you know, that incredible stuff you demolish before you meal comes at a mexican restaurant; the one that fills you so full you forget you still have a meal on its way? Yeah, that one. (I failed...but I will try again someday. With gloves.)

Okay, we're talking pepper burn. Forgot for a moment. I only had one tiny jalepeno--a whopping six cents worth. And when I was done mincing the tar out of it (didn't know there was TAR in them did you?), the skin under my fingernails burned. And burned. Did I mention it burned? So, while it's only 1/50th of what you experienced, I can fully appreciate what you're talking about. My deepest sympathies.

After multiple washings and NOT Googling it (shoulda thought of that, though), I soaked them in --drum roll please -- flour. Yup. It absorbed the oils that made the skin burn instead of spreading it around and rolling off the oils. I did it repeatedly until I had flour caked under my nails, then washed them after a bit. I could still feel it when I got up the next morning, but it was very minimal--nothing a bit more flour didn't help.

Who knows...maybe it was just my equivalent of alcohol (uh, Germ-X) and ice packs.

Gotta love them jalapenos.

Blogger Shan said...
Boy am I ever sorry about your experience. That simply sounds hideous Slush! I've had the choking fits from peppers but I think I might have worn latex gloves when I had a bunch of them once. Hope they are better today. It seems like you'd want something more soothing than alcohol though. Like Noxema or burn numbing ointment. I don't know. Feel better!

Blogger Katrina said...
Wow, that sounds terrible! Thank you so, so much for the warning, though. I would totally not have thought of gloves.