Trader Horn spoke of a fellow down-and-out in the Joburg doss house – a traveller who “made good money but couldn’t stand prosperity”. Whenever he made a commission, he’d go and get foolishly inebriated.
My TomTom has a problem with prosperity. Jess will hoard her pocket money but Tom must spend his with urgency. But how lucky am I that his idea of a splurge is to take his Monday pocket money and walk to the shops and return with a thick steak, fresh herbs and rocket, a brick of butter and coarse salt? He’ll hurry home with his loot, cook up a storm and sit down and eat it happily. He may not finish it and he definitely won’t eat our supper after that, but he’s as happy as larry.
This time it was pasta with a freshly-made herb and tomato sauce.
Tomatoes screened against vervet monkey raids. These powder-blues have been sending in the troops this winter as the drought bit hard. I put food out for them early mornings before they wake on the boundary so they discover it “by chance”.
Out in the open – Share and share alike, I tell Tobias. He shakes his head.
The hydroponic spinach under shade cloth – makes the most wonderful mfino for my phutu.
I love hot food so I looked into the whole effect-of-chilis thing a couple years ago and was really intrigued and pleased at what I discovered.
If you could watch cells and nerves on your tongue through a powerful microscope as someone burnt them with a flame you would actually see them get physically damaged as they sent a mad “heat and pain!” signal to your brain. If you watched them as you ate a habanero chili the same urgent message would be sent, but NO HARM would be happening to the cells! No harm whatsoever.
Human tongue up close
Once you process this info you can really start to relax and enjoy hot food. It’s “capsaicin” that’s responsible for that burn and pain sensation. Marvellous stuff! Capsaicin selectively binds to a protein known as TRPV1 that resides on the membranes of pain and heat-sensing neurons. TRPV1 is a heat-activated calcium channel that usually opens between 37 and 45°C. When capsaicin binds to TRPV1, it causes the channel to open at or below normal human body temperature, which is why capsaicin is linked to the sensation of heat. Glorious heat! So what happens when you add chillis to your grub is your body thinks it is being exposed to heat. Your tolerance for heat in the exposed tissues goes so low that the temperature of your own body is mistaken for a serious burn. Your brain says ouch! and eina! at first, but once you know what’s happening you learn to say Ooh! and Aah! and you get to LURV that sensation and the feeling of well-being that follows.
So: You can go on a long boring run for your endorphin pleasure, or you can sit and enjoy a delicious meal for the same effect!
That’s the brain’s response. Meantime, your body responds to this heat like it would normally by trying to cool you. Capillaries expand in the area of contact and redness and swelling begin so the blood can carry heat away and bring in healing factors to fix the injury (in this case: “injury”). The chemical only works locally on the tissues it directly touches (on nerve endings). This is why your tongue and lips will burn, as they have lots of nerve endings close to the surface. But the pain may also cause general stress sweating as your body is chemically reacting to pain and trying to counteract it. Your body thinks it is in the presence of a dangerous level of heat and responds with the sensation of pain even though there is no danger.
Incidentally, your body’s ability to feel temperature is a separate sense. TPRV1 receptors are an “Ouch! that’s hot” sense not a “Hmm, this is hot or cold” sense. Normally heat only begins to generate pain if it goes over about 37°C and the pain climbs as the heat does!
You get used to (and learn to love) the effect of chillis. Repeated exposure to capsaicin causes the chemicals that communicate pain to be depleted from your nerve endings, making you tougher and less of a ninny. Did I mention: Marvellous stuff!?
Aside: Chillies originally come from South and Central America, and were taken to Europe first and then to India and Asia, where they became an integral part of Asian cuisine.
Oh Emm Gee, another phase. Now we’re thirteen and we NEED to “get buff“. To bulk up. School starts in a week and five weeks of lying on the couch while I say “Come for a walk” is over. Suddenly, we now need to get fit and bulked up in the next couple days!
It’s 6.55pm and TomTom and his mate Francois who’s staying over NEED money and NEED to walk to Pick n Pay to buy “future life” a fake-promise cereal endorsed by people who will say anything for $$$. OK, OK, off you go, I say. It’s late, but PnP is just 200m up the road.
Pring from his phone: Dad, PnP is closed, can we go to Spar. Spar is 4km away and it’s 7.15pm. I ask: Don’t they close at 7.30? No at 8pm he says We can make it Dad!
I’m not going to stop him. Off you go.
Halfway through my apple crumble n custard and black coffee which I’m eating as part of my alternative Tim Noakes diet – the original one; my other diet is the Tim Noakes ‘Banting-type’ Diet – I have misgivings. His friend with him is an only child and his Mom once specifically worried about him not being able to ride a bicycle out in the big wide world, so maybe she wouldn’t approve of a 4km walk at 7.15 and a 4km walk back in the dark.
So I head off once I’m done to see how far they’ve got and to give them a lift. Just like most other Westville Moms.
Actually, Tom has ridden a lot and walked a lot and swam quite a lot these hols, so I do exaggerate somewhat.
They made it – I found them on their way back already.
It’s the fourth time we have celebrated your birthday without you. And it’s not the same. It was chaos, of course. After two weeks of hum n haw, the kids decided we needed to go to Butcher Boys in town for big steaks. Then they decided on John Dorys nearby for fish n chips. Then Jess decided not to go.
In the end TomTom, Lungelo & I went to the nearby centre. They each had a R99 mixed platter, I had steak and we brought two calamari n chips home to Jess & her friend Tarryn.
When they’d finished the boys walked home and I finished a second glass of wine and paid. Just before I left a lady at a nearby table came over. She knew Tom from aftercare and was all complimentary. I thanked her for helping to get the lil bugger to pass!
Took three 12yr-olds to the movies on Friday night. They asked me to disappear before they got spotted with me – ruin their reps, I would.
So I wander off to my man cave substitute, Exclusive Books and wait, surplus to requirements.
They walk in bright-eyed a few hours later.
The movie? Oh, the MOVIE!? Ja, it was good. They’re bursting to talk, but they’d probably arranged “Don’t say nothing”< and I get non-commital grunts.
It couldn’t last. There were GIRLS! Some not even from their school, and some taller than them! They sat near these chicks and in front of them and spoke to them and they took the sweets the boys offered them! And it was a 16 movie, that’s why they needed me away before they bought tickets. But it’s fine, they let them in no problem.
Oh boy . .