Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jalapeno Hands

This person is in for a world of pain

Last Sunday, I experienced pretty severe pain due to my exposure to capsaicin, the compound in jalapeno peppers that makes them hot (and has been weaponized into pepper spray). Apparently, it was not wise of me to de-seed and slice two dozen giant Whole Foods jalapenos without wearing gloves. Thus I bring you the latest chapter in my unusual medical misfortunes (which have included a kidney stone, an allergic reaction to jellyfish and a bellybutton cyst).

My Super Bowl party was a classic Katie Vagnino hapless debacle even before the kick-off. As usual, what started out a small, low-key event escalated out of my control. The guest list went from less than six to ten people, and the menu expanded from just chili and chips, to chili, 9-layer dip, cornbread, guacamole, and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. I really needed a sous chef. Especially when around 3pm, it dawned on me that when I had looked up the kickoff time online (6:30), that was in EST. I keep forgetting that I no longer live on the East Coast, you guys. So at 3pm, I had TWO hours before my guests would start arriving, not three. FML.

I lowered my head and got chopping and initially, I was making good time. I got the chili on first, then made the guac (one of the 9 layers in the dip). Around 4:30, I started prepping the poppers, figuring, we could eat them at half-time (they only need about 15 min in the oven). I cut up about 6 of them and then remembered that I hadn't yet put on any make-up. I know it's the Super Bowl and whatever, but I did not want to receive guests (some of whom I had never met) without my face on. So I washed my hands thoroughly (or so I thought) and went to the bathroom. Oh, VANITY.

You can probably guess what happened next -- I accidentally touched my eye and all hell broke loose. My face turned splotchy and red, my right eye clenched shut, and yes, I started screeching. My BF Chris was there and immediately got online to find the cure: milk. I needed to put milk IN MY EYE. Somehow, we managed it as a team effort -- I dribbled enough in that the pain started to abate. Then predictably, the doorbell rang. Party time!

I opened the door with a giant milk stain on my shirt and my right eye still swollen shut. Fortunately, my guests were gracious enough to not run away in terror. 

You would think the absurdity ends there, but it doesn't. I abandoned the poppers for a while, but the unfinished task bothered me. Those jalapenos had gotten the best of me. I had promised in the Facebook event invitation that there would be jalapeno poppers. SO GODDAMMIT, I was going to finish. I just wouldn't touch my face.

So I made them. And they were delicious, stuffed with a cream cheese and spicy mustard blend, and wrapped in bacon. They were gone in minutes. Everyone enjoyed the food, drank beer, watched the game. After a rocky start, the party ended up being okay, more than okay. 

Then about an hour after everyone left, my fingers started tingling and not in a good way. Tingling transitioned swiftly into burning and a Google search of "finger burns from peppers" confirmed that I had "jalapeno hands." 

There were dozens of sites where people told stories similar to mine -- chopped or handled jalapenos and had burning hands as a result. But the problem was the everyone had different suggestions as to how to best relieve the pain. Based on internet suggestions, I tried soaking my hands in:

--cold milk
--vegetable oil
--hot water with dishwasher soap
--lemon juice
--nail polish remover

Cold milk worked best, but only temporarily -- I soaked my hands for literally two hours but the second I took them out, the burning came back. Around 1am, I needed to try to find a solution in order to sleep. I couldn't bring a bowl of cold milk into bed with me (though I'm sure my cat would have been psyched). One woman on a website insisted that urine (because of the acid) would do the trick. I considered peeing on my hands. It was a dark hour.

But I didn't. And then another "natural" remedy caught my eye: saliva. As one commenter astutely noted, your mouth doesn't burn for hours when you eat jalapenos, so it must be doing something right.

I climbed into bed warily. And started sucking on my fingers. And holy Jesus, IT WORKED. The miracle of science!  My mouth did burn a little, but it was nothing compared to the pain on my fingers. Saliva is strong shit, man! After about thirty minutes of licking and sucking on my hands (yes, I know, gross), the pain subsided enough for me to pass out. And when I woke the next morning, it was totally gone.

Jalapeno hands. I don't recommend them.

1 comment:

mickey said...

Katie-I'm shocked-I know you were brought up better than this (having cooked for a few of your mom's parties)-HIRE A CATERER-or start dating chefs-they're very talented guys