<Alert to male readers: although the first paragraph may make you squirm, I promise, it doesn’t get more cloyingly female. Stick with me and you may learn something to help your currently-afflicted or later to be affected female partner.>
Almost four years ago, I had a hysterectomy (aka The Happiest Day of My Life). My ovaries were left behind. No big deal because it DID instantly cure a lifetime of monthly misery. I was told that the dreaded beast called menopause would still pay me a visit because my ovaries were still there. At that point, what did I care? It simply brought an end to six-to-eight ghastly days each month.
During this past month of July after turning in for the night, there were several occasions where I awoke with my torso drenched with sweat glistening with moisture. It began right around the time that the Connecticut summer finally kicked in with typical 90+ degree temperatures and 85+% humidity. Even my keratin-treated hair began to frizz.
I simply attributed the multiple occurring moments of nightly discomfort to be a result of the weather. But then I stopped and thought, “Well, Betty, your central air is set at 70˚ at night. It canNOT be the weather.”
At my annual doctor visit last week, I told him of my night sweats (ugh, I’m sure you can tell I was trying everything possible to avoid owning that phrase.) He said, “On average, women begin menopause at age 51.4.” I had just turned 51 three weeks prior. There you go. Average Betty.
At the same time, my first attempt at growing habanero peppers on a suburban deck began to pay off. It started slowly. A single habanero finely diced into chili. Excellent heat and flavor. A few days later, an attempt at jerk marinated chicken containing the four peppers that had ripened. Even better.
hot hot hot
As the crop continues to ripen, I’m struggling to keep up with recipes utilizing these fierce chiles. Tonight I made a Thai Red Curry Chicken Pasta dish. I have a high tolerance for culinary heat. Any time I go to a restaurant where the menu offers diners the opportunity to request a specific level of hotness, I always specify the maximum. And I’m never fully satisfied. When home cooking, I ALWAYS go overboard on the quantity of chiles called for in a recipe.
But satisfaction has been realized in an entirely different way. I’ve experienced a decrease in the occurrence of night sweats that has been in direct proportion to my increased habanero consumption. The more heat I pump into my body via jerk marinade or pineapple habanero salsa, the less my internal middle-aged furnace tries to force heat to escape.
So, my advice to anyone dealing with the dreadful side effects of menopause: consume habanero chiles in any way, shape or form you can. Spread the word. It works for me.
Growing Your Own is the Way to Go.
I’m now at the point where at least 5-7 habanero chiles fully ripen on my deck plants each day. Please forward me any recipes you may have to make use of the bumper crop. Or, if you live in CT, let me know and I’ll personally deliver a freshly-picked batch.
I plan to test every recipe for the preservation of habanero peppers that I can find. Tomorrow I will be threading a string through about 16 of them and hanging above an air vent in my office in attempt to dry/preserve these wonderful gems of my menopause relief. If you have any recipes to recommend, please share.
Special note to contact lens wearers: most recipes using habanero peppers recommend the use of rubber gloves while chopping and handling. Feeling quite confident about my ability to handle the intensity of the habanero on my taste buds, I didn’t completely discount the handling cautions, but nor did I take it seriously. Please be advised that up to six separate hand washings are insufficient to cleanse the fire from your fingers. I could wash my hands over the course of six or seven hours and I still singe my eyeballs when trying to remove my contact lenses. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t done it three times now.
The eyeball burn is still better than night sweats.