Friday, August 11, 2006

When the Chili Pepper Is Named "Fatal," That Should Serve as a Warning

We've been growing some peppers called "Fatalli" peppers (or possibly "fatalii" - the etymology of the word is a little unclear, but I've decided it's a cognate for fatal) in our backyard garden. Mr. McGee, who's a pepper fan, planted the hottest ones he could find that would grow locally. He'd never eaten fatallis before, but the garden dude assured him they were plenty hot.

Fatallis are from the Capsicum chinense species, which encompasses the hottest of all peppers, including nagas and habaneros. Fatallis are lesser-known, but still pretty serious peppers. We're talking 100,000+ Scoville units in all members of the family; they're all 10s on the 1-to-10 scale of chili heat.

Three of our fatallis came ripe recently. Mr. McGee picked them, and decided he HAD to eat one. So while I was out running errands, he cooked himself up an omelet of eggs, onion, and sauteed fatalli pepper.

I'm pretty sure he left the ribs in.

When I returned from the bank, he was standing in the driveway, tears in his eyes and on his cheeks, eating his omelet.

"You know those peppers?" he gasped. "They're really hot."

He kept eating.

I went inside the house, and immediately my face started stinging, my eyes started watering, and I started coughing.

"What the hell did you do?" I demanded.

"That's why I went outside," he said.

Mr. McGee had released SO MUCH CAPSAICIN into the air while sauteeing the peppers that the house was literally unliveable. It was like getting really dilute pepper spray in the face. Every exposed bit of skin was stinging like crazy, and I had to go back outside because I couldn't stop crying or coughing.

Windows open, all exhaust fans on, it took half an hour before the house was liveable, and a good three before it stopped bothering me.

"You are SO not allowed to cook chilis indoors anymore," I informed him.


HeartShadow said...

but he ate the omelette?????

your man is strange, Eyebrows .....

Chef Kevin said...

SWEET!! Go, Mr. McGee. AS soon as humanly (or time permitting) possible, I will post Chris Schlesinger's "Pasta From Hell" insanely hot melange of items that calls for an impossible amount of habaneros on my Chef Kevin blog. Oh, wait, you're not letting him cook anymore...

Eyebrows McGee said...

well, now that my frying pan will probably be chili-y forever and ever, I GUESS he can make some pasta with super-hot stuff, as long as he uses the pre-chili-ed frying pan!

And as long as I'm spending the day somewhere else entirely!

Mahkno said...

Yummy Yummy Yummy

Dan Dermody/WIRL said...


I hope you don't mind, but I copied your "pepper" story and forwarded it to my son and his wife out in Portland, Oregon. They LOVE hot and spicy food, and are always experimenting with stuff. I know he'll get a big laugh out of your article. Kinda reminds a little bit about an episode I had a couple of years ago. Had a friend over, and I was making homemade chili. I kept tasting it, and it needed more chili powder...and, more..and, more. By the time all the seasonings cooked down, it was WAY too hot to eat. Like you, our eyes were watering ..and, we too, had to open the windows to let the spicy smell out. Whew!! Went just a BIT overboard with the chili powder!!