The Habanero Pepper Incident

Last year at this time, Harrison and I were alone on Pelee. Rob was back home with Megan who wanted to finish out the softball season. A few weeks earlier, my girlfriend Leslie had called to tell me that she and her partner Gary would be renting a cottage on Pelee Island’s East Shore. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and looked forward to spending some time together.

One year ago today, Leslie and Gary asked us to join them for dinner. As they’d be serving tacos, I thought about what I could contribute with the supplies I had on hand. A rice dish soon popped to mind but I had nothing to add to it to make it interesting. I knew of a cottage just around the corner with a vegetable stand out front. I got in my car and made my way over.

I was happy to see they had quite the selection of brightly coloured peppers to choose from. Picking out a few I suddenly spotted the habaneros. Great! Adding a little spice would suit the Mexican theme perfectly. Peppers in hand, I put my money in the can and drove home.

I had never cooked with habanero peppers before. I knew they were hot but just how hot I was about to find out! I carefully diced up one small habanero and added it to the simmering rice. I then washed my hands and began to tidy up. At some point I rubbed my eye, residual habanero pepper juice unknowingly still on my hands. As the pain was instantly overwhelming, I was soon overcome with panic. I raced to the bathroom and started splashing water onto my face. I thought I was going blind. All alone, (Harrison had just stepped out to run some errands) I began to contemplate calling the Island EMS but stopped myself. I could just imagine dispatch relaying my phone call, “Yes, we have a woman with a pepper problem.” followed by laughter.

Harrison soon returned to find me crying and soaking wet. “I think I have to go to the medical clinic!” I sobbed. “Sure, I’ll take you mom if you really need but try to calm down.” was his response. He then brought me a small plastic cup and I was able to properly perform an eye wash. The pain slowly subsided and I didn’t go blind.

That night I shared my traumatic incident with Leslie and Gary. I also tried to share the rice dish which we discovered due to the extreme heat, was not surprisingly, inedible.

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