The Great Serrano Incident of 2007

Yesterday was not a terribly fun day. First off, Saturday night was date night, which involved vodka, pinot noir and some sort of champagne and Chambord concoction that the hostess swore on her life, was “Soooo refreshing!”, except that it sounded more like, “Soooo wefweshing! Sewiously, SO wefweshing! Twy it!” Might I point out, she didn’t seem to have a speech impediment during the previous 5 minutes while we chatted it up. No, she was just a hostess with a viable drinking problem. That or she was totally nervous around D, which we ALL know can happen to the best of us in conversations.

Sunday morning crept up on us way too soon, with a baby singing falsetto from his crib at 6:30am. I don’t really know who this baby was, but he definitely wasn’t Wito. Let’s call him Needy von Neederstein. “Neevonee” graced us with his presence for the entire day yesterday. Pick me up! Put me down! WAHHHHHH! Pick me up! Put me down! WAHHHHH! This coupled with a pounding headache and that creepy skin feeling almost took me over the edge. In fact, I do remember looking at the clock at 1:30pm and declaring, “This is the LONGEST day ever! Will it ever end?! WHY, NEEVONEE, WHHHHYYYYYYY?”

The day was dragging – Sunday nights are Taco Night, and I decided to make guacamole. Specifically, a recipe for Chipotle guacamole that I found online, which tastes almost exactly like the real thing. This recipe calls for Serrano peppers. Now, I’ve worked with Serranos before, and given my unbelievably sensitive skin, I have worn gloves in the past. Except yesterday, in my hungover haze, I convinced myself that I had seeded Serranos in the past without gloves with no problems.

I am still trying to figure out why I didn’t just put some damn gloves on. Maybe I was still a little tipsy, or maybe I am a stupid, STUPID masochistic individual. Regardless, I seeded, minced and handled the peppers for about 15 minutes before washing my hands. Mother Fucker.

Wow. It burns, people. It burns bad. And it burns for a long time, even when soaking your hands in vinegar, followed by milk, followed by holding ice cubes while trying to not visualize blisters forming underneath your skin. Then, cutting off your nails in order to get into the little spaces where the oil has seeped into your fingernail beds. And then, googling repeatedly, only to find this over and over:


Note: Handle Serrano chiles with care. Protect your hands because the capsaicin can make the skin burn. Wear rubber gloves, or coat your hands with oil, which native cooks have done for centuries. Once your hands or gloves have been in contact with chiles, do not touch your lips, eyes, face, or delicate body parts. To prevent burning those sensitive areas later, scrub your hands and arms vigorously with plenty of hot soapy water. Don’t rinse chiles in water because this removes the oils, which hold much of the chile’s flavor. Preparation will depend on the desired heat.

I, Whoorl, am here to impart my pepper oil wisdom to you. NOTHING works, except time. I tried every folk remedy under the sun (thanks to Google and my fellow twitterees!), but they all sucked (NO thanks to Google and my fellow twitterees!). Luckily, 3 hours later (180 minutes! 10,800 seconds!), the Level 10 Mind-Numbing Hell Fire morphed into what I’d refer to as a Level 6 Slow Burn.

I’d also like to mention how hard it is to NOT touch your face or eyes or baby for several hours due to the residual Capsaicin oil, which doesn’t completely come off your skin for 12 hours. It’s similar to getting a manicure, when all of the sudden, your nose just WON’T STOP ITCHING, and yes, YES, the eyes! The eyes are itching too! But you musn’t touch! DON’T TOUCH, for the love of God!

After a good night’s sleep (praise Jebus), the slow burn has now diminished to a Level 1 Tingle. And the world is right again.

  1. christina

    July 3, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    i just had the bad jalapino incident of 2007. cut jalapinos. took a shower and rubbed my eyes. sobbed with my eyes squinched shut for a half hour. i had to bumble through the rest of my shower all helen keller like.

  2. cj

    July 3, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Have to say I love your blog! I had a similar experience with a capsaicin muscle cream on my honeymoon. I had a sore neck and my husband rubbed the cream on for me. He diligently washed his hands, but of course, this stuff does not come off. We were quickly made aware of this fact during…well, I mean, like I said, this was my honeymoon. Delicate body parts? Covered. Nothing like screaming on your wedding night for all the wrong reasons.

  3. viciousrumours

    July 4, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Surfed in from WhiskeyMarie’s place…..

    Food should never be dangerous. I shuddered and tried really hard not to laugh as I read that, because laughing at someone elses pain is bad and wrong and bad and yeah…I failed miserably and I’m sorry I laughed….but it was the “oh no, how horrible” kind of laughter, not the, “HA HA” kind of laughter.

    I’m glad you’re better now.

  4. Darren McLikeshimself

    July 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I think what’s freaky about it is how your fingers will still burn days later when they come in contact with anything hot or warm the way they would if you had actually burned them on a stove.

  5. kasia

    July 20, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I just googled “fingers burn serrano pepper” and your site was the first result. I’m dealing with hour 3 of the horrid burning pain from this damn pepper. Good to know to not bother with the folk remedies. So, this must be what hell is like.

  6. mike

    July 29, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    well i’m sitting here typing with one hand because i had my serrano accident….. to top it off i have sensitive skin……. 12 hours later i’m still hurting up a storm. perhaps these should come w/ labels at the store? [besides great for salsa ]