August 29, 2009

Hazards of Lunch

Much of the permanent cellar crew here at the winery, are Mexican in origin. And one of the pleasures of working with them, aside from learning Spanglish, is lunchtime. We all eat a leisurely lunch in the shade of the winery garden at communal picnic table. The Mexicans often share their overflowing tuperwares, with the oft repeated question, “Taco?”

Beside corn tortillas, the other staple is chillies. All sizes and colors are brought out, with commentary on their flavor, heat and so on. Of course, spicy scales are very personal, and its hard to know what it means when someone says that a certain chili can be eaten like candy.

This last week, I was enjoying my simple pasta lunch, then was temped to try a bright red jalapeño. At first it was sweet and tangy, then it was intensely hot.
Then I rubbed my eye.
Even through I had washed my hands, there was still some oil on my fingers. How ironic that the ignition of my eye with volatile chili fluid occurred right before our general harvest safety meeting. Next time I have chilies with lunch, I’m wearing gloves.

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