Several years ago, my father sent me a package of chili flakes from peppers he’d grown in his garden, dried, and ground up in the garage. He sent them to me with a note on the envelope warning postal workers to handle with care else risk burning eyes or other sensitive parts. (Now that I think of it, he must have sent the package pre-2001 with all its anthrax and other paranoia nonsense.)

I used them for quite some time when seasoning various dishes, but over the years they started looking less vibrant than the organic chili flakes I bought in the fancy section of our local supermarket. I began to think of them as a tamer spice, something to add a smiling suggestion of seasoning to an otherwise savory meal.

Tonight I put a couple of gentle shakes of those chilies on my pizza, and they nearly knocked me sideways. Surprisingly potent, still, after years and light and humidity and other unfavorable conditions. And as the burn intensified, prickled my sinuses and settled in for a spell, I thought of my father in his goggles in the garage, pulverizing the peppers and knowing I’d appreciate his effort. And I settled into the sting in my mouth and relished the hurt, wanting it to hurt more.

to “Capsaicin”

  1. Flasshe says:

    Visit Flasshe

    Aw, I could see where you were going with that. Too sweet. It’s more than just memories that live on, isn’t it?

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