It was salsa day. My wife and mother-in-law were making batches of homemade salsa. I walked in on the middle of the process and saw pots boiling on the stove and my wife in rubber gloves with a knife. If I didn’t know it was salsa day, I might of thought I had walked in on a meth cooking operation ala Breaking Bad. My knife-wielding wife was cutting jalapenos. She suddenly screamed when some jalapeno juice squirted her in the eye. Being the gallant guy that I am, I suggested protective eye-ware. She glared at me with one eye. I then offered to cut the peppers for her.
The salsa chefs warned me that I should wear the rubber gloves. “The peppers will burn your hands. The pepper juice will stay on your hands and you will get it in your eyes and face.” They explained. I had diced and cut many a spicy pepper in my life. I had lived in Asia and chopped many fresh peppers. I scoffed at their cautions. Do cooks and families in Mexico wear rubber gloves when working with jalapenos? Of course not, I thought. I quickly worked my through the jalapeno peppers without any problems. I gloated a little to myself. I also gloated a little to everyone else. I did have eye protection in the form of my glasses. I had been wearing my glasses instead of contacts for several days while I recovered from an eye infection.
The pungent smell of the jalapenos pierced the air. I decided to wash my hands thoroughly after the chopping. A tiny part of my brain mentioned that washing with water might not be effective since drinking water when eating jalapenos can make the burning worse. I scoffed at that tiny part of my brain. What was I going to do wash my hands with milk? The thought to research methods of removing jalapeno juice from your hands via Google or Pinterest quickly crossed my mind, but that seemed like too much trouble.
Two hours after the jalapeno preparation my wife and I were at home. I decided my eye was better enough for contacts. I put my left contact in. The pain only came as my eye began to water. My eye was not merely burning. It was melting. I screamed like an injured cartoon character and went down on my knees. I scrambled to get the contact out of my eye. I could barely manage to keep my eye open. The tears streaming from my eye were toxic. I somehow managed to contaminate my other eye. I began screaming some more. My wife had stopped laughing by the time I had mostly stripped down and was making my way to the shower with my eyes closed. My eighteen-month old daughter would scream every time I screamed and then laugh. The sarcasm is strong with that one.
I feel I must make clear that the pain was horrible. Burning is the common description of jalapeno in the eye. It was more than just burning. Think of a time when your eyes have been fully adjusted to pitch-blackness. Then remember how sudden exposure to light made it impossible to fully open your eyes. Next think of the worst sunburn pain you have ever had. Think of the pain and the simultaneous itching. Now think of your eyes suddenly adjusting to bright light, but your eyeballs are sunburned, and someone is poking your retina with a toothpick and your tears are actually acid. That is what self-inflicted jalapeno pepper-spray to the eyes feels like.
The water in the shower did not help. My wife gave me some dawn dish soap. She told me to wash my hands with it, but to keep it away from my eyes. I lathered myself in the dawn dish soap. The areas around my eyes felt like they were peeling away from my face. I slapped some of the dawn on them and it immediately soothed the irritated areas. After several minutes I was able to keep my eyes open. Upon exiting the shower my wife looked at my eyes laughed, and took a picture. I decided not to put contacts in that day.
The entire reason I was at home putting my contacts in was to prepare to go for a walk with my sweetheart. It was a gorgeous day. I managed to make it outside for a walk even in my condition. It turns out one of the side effects of accidental self inflicted jalapeno pepper spray to the eyes is lingering sunlight sensitivity. I felt like my eyes had been dilated.
It turns out cooks and families in Mexico do use gloves, and other protective measures, when working with jalapenos. I learned two valuable lessons from the pepper spray incident. Whenever you think you should probably Google something, do it. Never question cautions from your wife and mother-in-law. The results are painful.Pin It