Saturday, August 1, 2009


'Writing is not a profession
but a vocation of unhappiness.'
Georges Simenon, in Paris Review, Summer 1955

Right. Well, although I am subject to alternating fits of impotent rage and maudlin self-pity, that is not my job here. Despite the internal groundswells upon which my nature is affixed, I'm just here to make sure things remain peaceable. It is in that spirit I humbly submit my first post:

How To Make One's Domicile Temporarily Uninhabitable

Rainy summer days, scarce here in Texas, often find me attempting chores outside the realm of my expertise or skill level. Cleaning out my pantry, for example - well, not for example; to be exact: I was cleaning out my pantry. Upon which I discovered several jars of roasted, dried chile peppers. A jar each of Ancho, Jalapeno, Cayenne, and Serrano peppers that, by my admittedly faulty memory, might be from around 2001. And just like that, POOF, I blew off that boring pantry-cleaning gig and started prepping for a big pot of CHILI. I rinsed a few each of the peppers off and placed them in a pot of warm water with a plate on top, to hold the peppers down to soak. I filled with those warm fuzzies one gets from preparing comfort food that placate the mind into thinking that you're back on stable ground, master of your domain, in control and in charge. Yet I did not want to stare down at a bubbling pot for a couple of hours. American ingenuity and American "I Want It Now" would prevail: by using a pressure cooker I could probably shave about an hour off the cooking time. The peppers were now soft and pliable, their soaking liquid blood-black and aromatic with heat and potential. The meat browning, I chopped some roasted onions, jalapenos, and a couple of habaneros from the fridge. All into the pressure cooker, the peppers and their liquid, with a can of beer to appease the Chili Gods. After 10 minutes, the cooker hissing its vitriol into the air, my eyes started to water. In another few moments, the decision to move to the backyard was inescapable - you could not literally breathe in there. I had effectually MACED MY HOUSE. Days later, my abode still tinged with capsaicin, I reminisce about the chili that you had to cut with rice or potatoes to get it in you - replete with running nose and a good head sweat.

Which brings me to the subject of my first post: The Scoville Scale

Turns out an American chemist, Wilbur Scoville, devised a sort of "Pepper Thermometer" to measure a pepper's burn back in 1912. May The Heat Be On You!


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