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Worse than a rotten tomato. June 28, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , ,

Sometimes, the news actually features something worth repeating. Such was the case when our friend Lzyjo from Worms and Flowers(http://wormandflowers.wordpress.com/) mentioned in a comment on one of our posts that she’d heard in the news that the government of India was planning to make grenades with Bhut Jalokias.

Our friend Ben could not bear to do a search to see if this particular piece of news was true, since if it wasn’t, it definitely should have been. And it should gladden the souls of gardeners everywhere. You see, Bhut Jalokias are hot peppers.

Fruits and vegetables have long been used as a means of expressing displeasure. Pelting lackluster actors and politicians with rotten tomatoes, tossing a banana peel where an unsuspecting target might walk, smashing pumpkins on neighbors’ lawns: It’s practically traditional.

In fact, it actually is traditional, a tradition that began in the theaters of England back in Shakespeare’s day, when it became popular for “orange girls” to sell oranges and other treats on the floor of the theater to hungry and thirsty theatergoers. The patrons of the arts who could only afford seats on the ground floor, aka “the pit,” were not, shall we say, the most refined theatergoers. But they were certainly the most vocal. And now they were armed with orange peels and apple cores and the like. True, they could have just thrown them on the floor, and doubtless many did. But the more ingenious realized that they had weapons at hand with which to express displeasure, and used them freely, accompanied by catcalls and any number of other rude noises, when the actors failed to live up to their exacting standards.

Given theater prices today, it’s no surprise that this particular tradition is no longer in evidence. But at least now you know why popcorn and other refreshments are sold in movie houses to this day! If you buy some, you’re forging a direct link back to the theatergoers of Shakespeare’s time. King Charles II’s most entertaining mistress, Nell Gwynne, began her professional life as an “orange girl.” Our friend Ben suggests, however, that you refrain from tossing your discards either at the screen (or your cellphone-addicted fellow patrons) or on the floor, though, please.

But I digress. When it became apparent that a rotten tomato made a marvelous projectile I’ll never know, but I suppose that satisfying SPLAT!!! can really only be surpassed by shoving a pie in someone’s face, and the tomato is a lot safer, at least if you’d prefer to avoid hand-to-hand combat and/or a little run-in with the police. Not, of course, that our friend Ben would know. If our friend Ben is fantasizing about attacking someone, you can bet it would involve pinning the unfortunate to the wall and telling them at length exactly what I think of them, while punctuating my remarks with slaps upside the head, not pelting them with produce.

Silence Dogood, on the other hand, is a big believer in pepper spray. Not, of course, a believer in attacking actors, politicians, or even people who’ve personally offended her with pepper spray, but in having canisters—lots of canisters—of FBI-strength pepper spray sitting around here at our rural cottage, Hawk’s Haven, in case fiends break in while our friend Ben is away and she needs to defend herself and our pets from harm.

Which brings me back to Bhut Jalokias. Our friend Rob is the only person our friend Ben has ever seen who can simply eat a Bhut Jalokia pepper. Last year, Silence and I had taken Rob, Rob’s son, and our friend Rudy to the Bowers Chile Pepper Festival, where Bhut Jalokias were the celebrity pepper of the year. That’s because the Bhut Jalokia is the hottest pepper in the world, and by a factor of more than double the next-hottest pepper. It practically shoots off the Scoville Units scale, the measure used to determine exactly how hot a pepper is; Bhut Jalokias come in at over a million Scoville Units. Rob became an instant celebrity at the festival, and no wonder: Even our heat-loving friend and fellow blog contributor, Richard Saunders, wouldn’t just sit there and eat a Bhut Jalokia. Apparently no one but Rob has ever just eaten a Bhut Jalokia, raw, plain, at a sitting. And yes, we are a bit worried about Rob, but we don’t really think he’s an android or anything. Really.

Anyway. The Bhut Jalokia pepper originated in India, and apparently the government has decided to make the most of one of their national treasures by turning it into a first-rate weapon. Our friend Ben doesn’t know about you, but I’d as soon not have a grenade filled with million-strength hot pepper spray explode anywhere near me. Silence, on the other hand, is eyeing our Bhut Jalokia plants with renewed interest. No doubt she’s envisioning the ultimate pepper spray. “Get back! This is Bhut Jalokia!!!”

Go for it, say I. But our friend Ben will admit that pelting intruders with stinking rotten tomatoes, tossing banana peels where they can slip on them, and smashing rotting pumpkins on their heads strikes me as equally effective. Just one more reason why veggie gardeners rule!