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This weekend, I held a memorial service for the C fibers in my tongue and possibly for a few in my fingertips. (The C fibers being the nerves that sense pain, for all of you who were not required to memorize all of the spinothalamic tracts of the central nervous system last week. Consider yourselves lucky.)
The whole thing was kind of awkward, you see, because I’m the one who killed them.
(Talk about a bull in a china shop. Sheesh, Jo. Do you have no remorse?)
I didn’t really mean to do it. It’s just. Capsaicin is so…addictive.
That burn you get when you eat a jalapeno.
Or the one that appears on your fingers a full four hours after making red pepper relish because you forgot to wash your hands.
You know, the one that, because you are a hypochondriac, you immediately attribute to your stress fractures and so you call your orthopedist (who you just happen to have on speed dial) and demand an explanation for this untoward behavior. And he sighs because, well, this is not the first time you’ve called him at ungodly hours of the night. And then he reminds you that pain cannot radiate from your pelvis to your fingertips. No matter how delusional you are.
And then, because you are a good, diligent med student who remembers everything she’s learned in the past two years. Everything except, well, everything.
You realize exactly what you’ve done.
By eating and touching capsaicin (the chemical in peppers that makes them so gloriously spicy). Which seeps into your skin and binds to your pain receptors with such voracity that it causes them to fire away, electricity and action potentials running rampant with a fervor that rivals that of a fireworks show on the 4th of July. The sky igniting in flame and sparkle.
Your sensory neurons twitching away, synapsing with everything in site. Until they just. Give. Out.
Yes, it is a sad sad thing.
But given how delicious. How sweet tangy spicy this red pepper relish is. How virtuous you feel after throwing it on top of some eggplant (possibly the last of the season!) with some feta cheese and a good hunk of bread and calling it a meal.
Oh it is so worth it.
This is my submission to Symon Sundays hosted over at Veggie By Season!
Red Pepper Relish
Makes 2 cups, adapted from Symon’s Live To Cook
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced very finely
2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (Michael calls for orange juice, but I had POM on hand)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil to glaze the bottom of the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and sweat until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos and sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the coriander seeds and cook for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the pomegranate juice and simmer. Stir occasionally, until the liquid completely reduces. Michael says this only take 10 minutes. I say that is a lie. 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the relish to cool to room temperature. Season with salt to taste and fold in the cilantro. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
For the “crostini”:
Either preheat your oven to 450, your broiler to high, or fire up the grill! I would have much preferred to fire up the grill. But, um. I live in a 12th floor apartment. That wasn’t happening. Slice eggplant into large thick-ish coins. Spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Grill/broil/bake until tender to the touch/desired consistency!
Sprinkle with red pepper relish and some feta cheese. Enjoy.
Please remember to send me your recipes for REGIONAL RECIPES: JAPAN!
And if you like what you see here at Eats Well With Others, please vote for me to be the Next Project Food Blog Star! Remember, you have 400 votes for this round, so I would really appreciate it if you included me as one of them!