Before you ask, yes, it hurt.
As much as the pepper compote scorched my tongue and throat in last week’s installment, it burned my bunghole the next morning.
On the positive side, I know that my gastrointestinal tract is still fully functional.
You know what, though? Much like the experience of consuming concentrated portions of poblano, serrano, and habanero peppers, the experience of excreting them was unpleasant, but reasonably brief.
The worst part of the whole ordeal wasn’t even related to eating or pooping. About an hour after I’d shot the video linked above, I went to remove my contact lenses as part of my nighttime routine.
I thought I had washed my hands thoroughly enough. I did not.
I’m sure I’ve felt worse pain, but I can’t immediately recall when. As I panicked to find some way to stop the feeling that my eyes were disintegrating, I did appreciate the irony. All that anxiety about eating the dumb things, and I go and smear pepper juice into what might be the most sensitive mucous membranes on my person.
My most profound takeaway from the first edition of Scaring Matt is this: There is no spoon.
For those who haven’t seen The Matrix — shame! — what I’m saying is that the burning sensation that accompanies eating capsaicin-laden food is completely triggered by the mind. That is to say, the chemical itself doesn’t cause any damage, even though the body reacts in a powerful way, due to the protective evolution of certain pepper plants throughout the world.
So, in actuality, there’s nothing to truly fear about chowing down on jalapeños. They can’t hurt you, although it might feel like they can, especially for those of us particularly sensitive to spice.
This epiphany was reinforced by a careful examination of labels around Casa Gajtka. Much to my amusement, both the multivitamin I take and the pre-workout drink I use contain capsaicin. My enemy was already inside the house!
It makes sense in retrospect, though. My vitamin is meant to boost metabolism, as is the pre-workout, and one of the proven benefits of eating spicy food is increased calorie burn in the aftermath. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Just goes to show how us humans can demonize or stigmatize something that we’re largely ignorant about. It wasn’t until I did actual research on spicy food and the Scoville Heat Unit that I discovered so-called ‘hot’ peppers don’t generate any actual, measurable heat.
That’s not to say the pain that comes with, oh, I don’t know, gulping down pepper purée, isn’t real. If your brain tells you it hurts, it hurts.
But, in the midst of discomfort, it helps to know that while some pain is a legitimate warning sign from nature, other varieties are more benign.
There is no spoon. I’d say that’s a perfectly fine mantra for a morning-after meditation in the latrine.
Keep it on Do-Goodery for more Scaring Matt experiments … (gulp)