Hurts So GoodAug 9th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
So you find yourself at a hot sauce festival. Let’s call it the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. You enter the tasting tent and your eyes begin to burn.
This is going to be good.
You are confronted with hundreds of jars and bowls of thick and thin red and green and orange salsas in various hues and various heats. Alongside the bowls and jars are baskets of thin, golden corn chips and corn chip shards that you’ll use to scoop and dip these fiery foodstuffs.
Your goal: taste your way through the tables and choose the entries you like best. But how should you safely navigate through these capsaicin concoctions whose creators (some of them, anyway) are competing against one another for the title hottest of the hot, and seem to cultivate a schadenfreude-like joy at seeing festivalgoers contort with pain as they burn from within.
Take a few moments to walk through the tent and check out the reactions of the people already engaged in tasting the salsas. Are they smiling and conferring with their companions, or gasping for air and begging to be put out of their misery? Make notes.
Speaking of making notes…bring a notebook with you so you can write down your impressions of the sauces you’ve tasted, so when it comes to cast your vote for “people’s choice” you can consult your scribbling and feel confident you actually voted for the sauce you liked.
Unlike a wine tasting where you begin with whites before moving onto reds — because whites are lighter on the palate than reds — the same cannot be said of salsas. A green or orange salsa will not necessarily be less incendiary than a red. In fact, chances are they are hotter. And just because someone’s made a specialty salsa using fruit, doesn’t mean it’s going to be sweet. So be warned.
You’ll need something to assuage the agonizing pain of the heat should one of the salsas you sample have an off the chart Scoville score. Water will not work; it will spread oil from the pepper over your tongue and mouth. Dairy kills the heat faster than anything, but beer is a close runner up. So barring walking around with a chunk of cheese in your pocket, you might want to keep a beer in hand.
And just a matter of etiquette –NO DOUBLE DIPPING.