Please check your guns and chilis at the door...
Yesterday, in between Yousuf highlighting our ceramic-tiled floor yellow, and me chasing a cockroach around the kitchen to Yousuf’s howling laughter, there was a slight “incident”, to quote the Israeli Army, which I call the chili pepper incident.
Now before I continue, I should explain something. Gaza’s famed green chilies are hot. And I don’t mean eye-watering hot. I mean take-one-whiff and you’ll feel nauseous hot.
So, to get back to my story. My mother inadvertently forgot one chili pepper on the kitchen counter that I was supposed to use that morning in an omelet-which I didn’t because the prospect of eating a nauseating omelet that likewise made me cry like a baby did not sound so appealing.
Instead, Yousuf got a hold of the chili, and as is his habit with all things raw, began to poke and prod at it, rubbing it, tearing it apart. Until he finally tired of the game. And then, slowly, the fiery vapors of capsicum began to make their way to his nostrils. Then came the inevitable eye rub. And the wails. Oh the wails.
I was so hysterical I thought the poor child had gone temporarily blind. He eyes looked crossed and extremely swollen and red and he couldn’t stop crying. For 30 minutes straight. No amount of water-flushing would sooth him-I don’t care what the books say.
In the end, he was ok, but he developed a very mild case of what’s known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage-basically a ruptured blood vessel in his eye, which heals in a matter of weeks.
After seeing him in so much pain from such a seemingly benign household vegetable (is a chili even a vegetable?) I was curious, and decided to Google “subconjunctival hemorrhage” and “exposure to chili pepper”. Apparently, chilies, or to be more exact, capsicum, is used by law enforcers in the state of Arizona as a non-lethal (but OH so painful) means of temporarily disabling someone who is a perceived threat to the officer.
I also discovered that the Los Angeles department of health services includes chili in its terrorism first aid manual (“Terrorism Agent Information and Treatment Guidelines for Hospitals and Clinicians”). Believe it or not chili is listed as a chemical weapon! Also known as Oleoresin Capsicum, it is right up there with Nerve and Mustard agents in a table discussing antidote therapies for “Chemical Weapons attacks.”
And you thought you couldn’t learn anything you didn’t already know on my Blog! Perhaps next time there’s an election, the sign in front of the polling center advising voters to check their cell phones, cigarettes, and guns, should also include chilies.
I always had a hunch those Gaza chilies were dangerous. But who knew?