We regret the error

I’m not exactly a fellow who seeks out culinary pain. But I’m an adult, so I put spaghetti sauce on my pasta and regularly buy the “hot” variety of jar salsa. I’ll use all the wasabi on a plate at a sushi restaurant.

But how does one tell in advance if a pepper is hot? And how does one ensure it isn’t lying?

A jalapeño pepper has decent marketing in its favor. The ghost pepper is typically associated with claims of near death in the right circumstances, so you’re pretty much jumping off the cliff if you’re eating one. Bell peppers are for babies.

From the recipe:

Sautéed shishito peppers finish the dish off with subtle zing.


First, a burst of seeds and a crispness missing from the neighboring shishito peppers. Within two seconds, I’d stopped chewing. I looked at Katie and started coughing. I removed my glasses. I took water. Katie at this point runs to get a cup of milk and I yell from the back porch that I’m about to vomit. I don’t. Instead, I sweat and feel like I’m losing my balance. So I start pacing to make sure I’m ready to fall over.

Milk does the trick, but it just doesn’t linger long enough. Maybe I should swish it like mouthwash?  I find a pocket of seeds between my cheek and teeth, but I find them with the tip of my tongue. The tongue is now ablaze all over again and death returns. I sit down, then stand again. Then sit.

Katie then threatens to haul all the peppers away from my dish, but I convince her that maybe they just need deseeding. I have no idea if there’s a point in doing so, but she soon returns with a small platter and a pile of neutered peppers. I then gingerly test each one before plopping it back into my dinner.

I hope you had a pleasant meal tonight without vipers hiding in plain sight.

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