I can’t believe I cut myself shaving last Sunday. Serves me right for not having one of those big bushy beards that are so prevalent these days, and they even have a name; the Bandholz, not to be confused with the Garbaldi or the aptly named Full Beard. They say young women of today think men are more attractive with beards, and I’ve got to admit that when my wife said I’d look good with one that’s all I needed to hear.
Vanity, thy name is John.
I found out my dinky facial hair is called the Circle Beard, but no matter what it’s called I have to shave around it and thus doing so nicked myself. You’d think with the up-to-date five bladed razor I have – pardon me, “shaving system” – nicks could be avoided, especially since that I’ve had several decades practice.
But no matter, I didn’t come here today looking for sympathy, nay, actually everything’s right in the world...now that chile harvest season has returned. Up and down the middle Rio Grande valley they’re bringing in that luscious green fruit, and like a cartoon character sniffing the air I’m virtually lifted off the ground floating in the direction of the nearest chile roaster. Sort of.
My first experience with the "green" was in 1989 when I moved to Santa Fe and had my first taste of huevos rancheros with green chile at Maria's. It was love at first taste. Both sweet and hot.
Ever since then I've learned that green chile - from hot to mild - improved everything but deserts. But wait...there's also green chile jelly. And chile cocoa. And...and...and...
My wife Vanessa has even made her own wine from red chiles. We add chile to scrambled eggs, soups and stews, hamburgers, pizza toppings, and of course burritos of all types.
There’s nothing that makes one feel more confident than having at least a one year supply of peeled and chopped green chile in the freezer. We prefer the Big Jim variety, a medium hot chile. Or a milder variety like Joe Parkers, and sometimes a hotter one like Sandia.
Speaking of “how hot is it” there’s a scale that ranks chiles and peppers. What Charles Richter is to earthquakes, Wilbur Scoville is to chiles. I was talking to a chile expert from NMSU a couple of years ago who said the Chile Pepper Institute down there often gets requests to certify the world's hottest pepper, rated on the Scoville Heat Scale.
He told me the Trinidad Maruga Scorpion pepper plant was rated at 2 million Scoville Heat Units, and was the world's hottest. To put that into perspective, an average Sandia is 7-9,000 SHUs and Barkers average 25,000 SHUs. In the lower heat category, Joe Parkers are only 4,000 SHUs.
No matter what the heat level is, what makes those little fellas so agreeable to us mortals besides the flavor is the euphoria it produces after the burn subsides. The theory is that the burning produced by the capsacinoids triggers release of endorphins, the “happiness” hormone. Not only that, chiles are good for what ails you, from sinus headaches to cold feet. Some claim it’s used to treat various cancers, weight loss, diabetes prevention and management, cluster headaches, skin disorders, respiratory diseases, digestive ailments, and on and on. In fact, the ancient Mayas used chile to treat coughs and sore throats. It stimulates gastric juices and the organs to aid in digestion and flush out illness more quickly. Creams made from chile are made to treat joint pain from arthritis and pain from shingles.
Not being an ancient Maya, I can’t attest to all those claims and clearly I’m not a physician, and I don’t think chile is going to fix my hypothyroidism, but I’m having some Christmas anyway just ‘cause.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, coming up Monday an evil enchanter named Loki who was put into chains by the gods will exact his revenge by creating a giant wolf to swallow the sun.
Or, it might actually be the much bally-hooed solar eclipse passing over the U.S.A. In these parts it will only be partial, starting at around 10:21 a.m., but by 11:45 a.m. about two-thirds of the sun will be blocked by the earth.
Although in his song Blinded By The Light, Bruce Springsteen says, “Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun, but mama, that's where the fun is…” just make sure you’ve got a pair of nifty solar lenses to see what the fun is all about or your retinas will be burned more than green chile.
I was also going to suggest that everyone shoot flaming arrows into the sky to reignite the rest of the sun, but…well, never mind.