At home, I washed the peppers and sliced them up into thin strips along with baby portobello mushrooms and a red onion. I bit into a pepper and found that it tasted really mild, almost like a bell pepper. Huh. So I grabbed a jalapeno, minced it up, and tossed it into the pan along with the other ingredients.
Fast forward twenty minutes or so: the vegetables were fully cooked, aromatic from garlic, cilantro, and cumin. And my fingers were completely on fire.
That stupid jalapeno! I cursed myself, having done this before. The burning sensation worked its way under my nails and cuticles, into tiny cuts and cracks on my hands that I didn't know existed, and started to crawl up my palms. I felt like my hands were radiating heat.
I started to freak out a little, which always leads to frantic Googling. And then I started to freak out that I was contaminating my keyboard with capsaicin. I managed to find some message board cures (always reliable, those) saying that dairy was the best way to get rid of a skin burn. I've tried this before and it didn't help, but I was desperate. So I poured a small bowl of milk and stood at the kitchen counter with my hands stuffed in the bowl.
And it didn't work. I paced around the house limp-wristed, shaking my hands pathetically. My next Google result was lime juice, supposedly what they do down in Mexico. Okay, whatever. I squeezed a few limes into a bowl and rubbed the juice and pulp over my hands. It actually seemed to do the trick. And then I dried my hands and went to do something else and the burn immediately came back.
I tried vinegar. I tried more milk. I smeared on some Greek yogurt. I went back to the lime juice. I gave up and tried ice water for a bit. Still no lasting relief.
In total desperation, I raided the medicine cabinet, looking for some nonexistent cream or liniment in which to slather my poor mitts. I grabbed a tube of Gold Bond cream and in a what-the-hell moment, rubbed half the tube on my hands. And I stood there and waited. And waited. And you know what? It worked. Eventually I had to wash it off and greet my friends, but they came bearing wine and cocktails which provided a different sort of relief.
What about those tacos, you ask? They were fine--hearty enough for meat and non-meat eaters alike. But they weren't even the least bit spicy. Of course, right?
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
2 fresh poblano chiles, halved, seeded, thinly sliced into long strips
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
6 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
6 corn tortillas (or hard corn taco shells)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Crumbled feta cheese (or Cotija)
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano chile, red onion, and mushrooms; sauté mixture until brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in ground cumin. Season to taste with salt. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer, draping up sides of skillet to fit. Divide mushroom mixture among tortillas, mounding on only 1 side. Place slice of Monterey Jack cheese atop filling in each tortilla. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling and press firmly. Cook until tortillas are brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer tacos to plates. Open tacos; sprinkle with chopped cilantro, crumbled feta or Cotija cheese, and toppings.