The famous, and unpleasant, pang of the peasant

The famous, and unpleasant, pang of the peasant

Heritage & Traditions

Alina Gómez

You do not have to be a native of rural areas to suffer from the unpleasant "pang of the peasant" when eating cold food, a common phrase in Cuba to designate a sudden and intense headache that scientifically bears the bombastic name of sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

The almost eternal heat that reigns in the Caribbean island makes its inhabitants like to consume products of a very low temperature, which they frequently eagerly take to their mouths, and then suffer the unbearable pang which, fortunately, is short-lived.

The expression, which has been transmitted from generation to generation, presumes this condition occurs mainly in guajiros, as peasants are called in Cuba, who are not used to consuming frozen foods such as those that appeared with the invention of refrigerators.

Ice creams, frozen flavored liquids, known as cold drinks, beers, soft drinks, just water… can suddenly cause intense pain that rises from the mouth to the head. Specialists point out in this regard that the brain should not experience sudden and sensitive changes in temperature, such as those that occur with the yearning ingestion of very cold products, to counteract which the sphenopalatine nerves are activated, close to the trigeminal nerve, behind the nose.

Blood vessels react to low temperatures and increase blood flow to the brain to warm it up and sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia occurs, which lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.

The pang of the peasant is inevitable, but its duration can be shortened by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth, since the muscular organ, transfers heat to the sinuses and warms the sphenopalatine nerves. You can also immediately drink some liquid at room temperature, but it is best to eat these foods slowly, no matter how eager we are to refresh ourselves.