Some Like it Hot-The Jalapeno
More Than Would You Like Fries with That?
After spending almost two years at my first assignment in the United States Air Force at Suffolk County AFB near Riverhead, Long Island, President Lyndon Johnson decided to close many of our military bases, Suffolk County AFB was in the group selected for closing. As part of the team of supply personnel we worked hard during the winter months of 1969 and early 1970 turning in, storing and accounting for all the supplies that remained on the base. I anxiously waited for my orders telling me where I would be going next.
In March of 1970 my orders came and I would soon be going to South Texas and Laredo AFB which at that time a pilot training wing. My new job wouldn't be on this base however, I was assigned to the 4783rd Surveillance Squadron located about fifteen miles into the Texas desert. It was while stationed here that I first learned about the jalapeno pepper, saw my first,Prickly Pear cactus,a real Road Runner, and jalavina. My dad had grown hot peppers in his garden here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina but I was never one to eat those peppers which were very hot. Dad loved them with fried cabbage and dried beans.
My trips into the city of Laredo soon became common and we often would stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken or Churches Fried Chicken restaurants. We would get a boxed lunch and always inside our box along with the mashed potatoes, slaw and chicken was at least one jalapeno pepper. We were never asked if we wanted a jalapeno pepper, it was a standard menu item for the dinners we purchased.
For several months when we ordered meals at the KFC or Churches, I tossed my jalapeno into the trash along with the chicken bones, napkins, and our drink cups. One day at the insistence of one of my fellow airmen who was Hispanic, I tried eating my jalapeno. To my surprise, this little pepper wasn't so hot it set my lips or mouth a fire but had a wonderful taste that made the fired chicken all the better. From then on I never threw another jalapeno into the trash.
Jalapeno pepper is now grown here in Western North Carolina and my brother in law grows them each year to sell on the Farmers Market in Asheville, NC. I introduced them to my family after getting discharged from the Air Force in 1972 and they are now added to family recipes especially the garden relishes my wife makes. My wife also makes jalapeno pickles or ringlets that we use in our home made Blue Ridge Mountain tacos. We also like to use the jalapeno to make nachos and the all time favorite, Mexican corn bread.
Besides being a great little addition to spice up your meals, jalapeno peppers are purported to have value in other ways. The capsaicin the hot stuff in jalapeno pepper cause the cancer cells to kill themselves. Jalapeno Pepper also has high concentrations of Vitamin A, C, and bio flavinoids. They also tend to lower blood pressure, help relieve sinus conditions, and migraine headaches. Some arthritis rubs contain capsaicin and is used to relieve pain associated with arthritis. In addition to all these wonderful attributes of the jalapeno, they fight inflammation, help you lose weight and and good for the heart.
Fresh jalapeno peppers are readily available at your grocery store in the produce section. For those who like a little extra flavor and some heat, the jalapeno is great; however care should be taken when children are are present at meals where jalapeno peppers are served, they might just be a little too hot for them. Common sense should govern here.