Saturday, December 29, 2007

The terrible scotch bonnet incident

My sweet H has a thing about red hot chilli peppers and the green ones as well...
He has a green house which is full of peppers of unpredictable heat. This is because he collects seeds from any pepper he can lay his hands on. They do not always breed true and what is more, the concentration of the blistering and burning juices varies with environmental conditions. Some peppers never really sharpen their teeth because the temperature in the greenhouse is not sufficiently elevated. Others jump out of an innocent-looking meal heavily armed and taking no prisoners.
His awful purpose, which he has never publicly stated, but of which I am convinced, is to cultivate the ultimate pepper, a pepper that could rival the infamous Red Savina Habanero with its rating of 350,000–570,000 Scoville Units.

It is a peculiarly British malady, this need to fry the taste buds with spicy food. There is an element of machismo, as well as masochism, which was so wonderfully mocked by the Indian comedy writers of Goodness Gracious Me, who sent their characters to a traditional English restaurant asking for anything as long as it was really bland, the blander the better. There is no denying that you can get high on chilli peppers. I use them as a cure for depression. The pain provokes a chemical response in the brain generating B-endorphins which bind to the opiate receptor sites of neurons. (It makes you feel happy in the same way that heroin does, but in a more natural and rather less dangerous way...)

Sensible French people will, of course, have nothing to do with anything that might affect their appreciation of wine, and so the range of chilli peppers available in Brittany is limited. However, a month or so ago, my sweet H came close to his secret goal, and he found some scotch bonnet peppers at the supermarket.
I was their first victim.
I cleaned them, removing the seeds carefully with a knife and fork (I am not stupid), but then I held them in my hands and rubbed them under running water to wash out the last of the seeds. My fingers became numb and tingly, so I didn’t put very much at all in the food.
The meal was still pig-bitingly hot.
I scrubbed under my nails with a nailbrush and waves of tingling and burning washed up from my fingers over my hands. This lasted for several days, whenever my hands were in water.

My sweet H decided to collect and dry the seeds of the last remaining scotch bonnet today. It was rather gooey and shrivelled but he managed to extract them without difficulty.
Then he went for a pee.
His wild cries of agony when he got into the bath a little later made me wonder whether the scotch bonnet pepper was not the only thing in the house with a red bonnet. It might last longer than several days, since a nailbrush is not an option…


Anonymous said...

Oh Rosie, thanks. This post made me laugh out loud.

Lucy said...

I was just thinking of the possible unfortunate juxtaposition of very hot chillis and other rather delicate membranous areas odf the human anatomy... then the punchline! I shall never see look at a scotch bonnet in the same light again...
Happy new year to you and yours,Rosie dear!

Sue Bailey said...

Oh dear, poor man!
Do tell him I have some Dorset naga seeds I'll be planting shortly if he wants to pop round for a chilli.

Rosie said...

happy new year everyone.
Thanks Sue, my sweet H would like to take up your chilli offer. He is still obsessed with planting chillis even after his recent little accident..I think it is a bit like lion taming: you have to get back in the cage straight away after you have been mauled or something?