Afilfil

afilfil

July 22, 2020

I grew three different types of hot peppers in my garden.  The first was a normal Jalapeno pepper which gets about three or four inches long when it is ready to pick.  The second was a Mammoth Jalapeno which grows to around six inches.   The last type was a Habanero Pepper which only gets about an inch and a half.  My two jalapenos have stopped production now that it has gotten hot, but the Habanero has only come on in the last few weeks.  The plant is covered with small peppers ready to pick.  I have found the peppers grown in my containers are not as big as normal ones.  Despite their smaller size, they make up for it with heat.

I mentioned earlier I spent a month on a farm in Egypt as part of an excavation.  We were cutting cost and ate whatever the farmer’s wife made for us, essentially a meatless diet.  One of my favorite foods was a pickled chili pepper which in Arabic was called “afilfil.”  At first, the peppers seemed like fire, but by the end of the month I was chomping them down.  I went on a survey party when I returned and one of the leaders had come back from New Mexico with some of the hottest peppers he had ever eaten. He passed them around and everyone started choking from the heat, except me.  I think it made him mad, but I told him these were nothing compared to the “afilfil” I had been eating for the last month.

I picked several of the small habaneros a couple of days ago but have been reluctant to try one.  We use jalapeno peppers in most of the things we fix, but I was unsure how to fix the habaneros.  I needed to know how hot it was before I mixed it in any food.  I was joking around last night and told Melissa I would give her a dollar if she ate one.  Without hesitation she said she would if I did and the dare was on.  I picked out two small peppers, we counted it down, and then we both ate a pepper.  For the next five minutes my mouth was on fire.  I ate a piece of bread.  I drank ice water.  Melissa put mashed potatoes on a spoon to cover her tongue.  Nothing helped until the heat finally dissipated.

THOUGHTS: “Bringing the heat” is a colloquialism for facing a challenge or hard times.  When Melissa and I ate our peppers last night we literally “brought the heat.” After eating her pepper Melissa warned me not to rub my face, as she rubbed her nose and it was burning from the residue of the pepper left on her hands.  During our current situation, it seems the heat has been brought to us.  The issue we need to face is how we will respond.  We need to ask probing questions about how we have addressed (or not) racism.  We need to keep (or start) the uncomfortable conversations with those around us.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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