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Here's chili in your eye

I suppose this is a General Chowhounding topic ...

So I'm buying an ear of corn from a Mexican street vendor ... she slathers it with butter, rolls it in cheese and sprinkles with chili powder.

"A little or a lot of chili?" , she asks in Spanish. "Mucho", I say. As the corn is handed over, a breeze blows up and mucho chili flies off the corn and lands in my eye ... aieeeee ... the agony.

So I'm wincing and moaning "chili, chili" and the corn lady pulls out some salt and hands it to me.

Does THIS seem like a time to add salt to my corn?

"No, no, chili ... ojo" I say.

This little grandmotherly woman nods smiles, pantomimes licking the back of her hand, shaking salt on it and rubbing her eye.

Too stunned and in pain to even think of the words in Spanish I blurt out "Rub salt in my eye?"

She smiles and nods.

Why not? I'm in pain already. Lick hand, sprinkle salt, rub eye ... it WORKED !!!

Now it didn't take all the pain away, but it removed the searing awful pain. Tear glands in my eye did the rest?

I guess this is an occupational hazard for this woman so she had first aid in a salt shaker.

So has anyone heard of this? Why would it work?

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  1. I had no idea of that rememdy... interesting...

    And next time do it with Mayo... the chile sticks better and it tastes much better than the 'parkay' stuff they usually use! :)

    --Dommy!

    1. In my college years, I worked as a waitress in a rather divey sportsbar. One night, a couple of guys seemed to be staging a chile eating contest, with the chilis lined up and the two of them taking turns biting into them.
      One guy was obviously losing. The sweat was running off his brow and his requests for another round were becoming increasingly faint.
      I remembered reading that either salt or sugar tames the heat of spiciness and brought him a shaker. He licked the back of his hand, shook the salt out and licked...and seemingly received some comfort.
      It makes sense to me that if it works for your tongue, it'd work for your eye - but I don't want to try it!I'm glad it helped you,though!

      1. I've never done that, but my friend's Viet mother told me (after I tore chilies into my pho and then rubbed my eye) to rub ice water on the back of the opposite knee -- and do you know, it worked?

        1. I've applied milk to my eye since it seems to work better than water when you drink it for spice relief. The milk did seem to work better than water. I don't think skim would work need the fat (as always!).

          1. Years ago when I was an assistant manager at a local restaurant one of my employees was cutting habanero peppers. Idiot boy wasn't wearing gloves.

            "You know, you might want to put on a pair of rubber gloves. That oil can blind you if you get it in your eye," says I.

            "No problem. I just won't touch my face."

            About 20 minutes later I notice that he left the line.

            "Where's A----?"

            "I dunno. Haven't seen him for awhile. Maybe he's in the bathroom."

            10 minutes later...still no A---.

            "Would you go check in the bathroom for me? The lunch rush is about to start"

            Sure enough my fry guy comes out of the bathroom laughing.

            "What's so funny"

            "You were right about the gloves."

            "Oh, no!"

            "Well, he didn't touch his face. But he's busy washing another part of his anatomy. He may be a while"

            Poor guy. All these years later I still cringe thinking about it.