Classic. Originally Published: ‘s Dean & Deluca Blog, July 2010
Sometimes we Americans get turned on to a new product…and, with our typical American enthusiasm, inflate the criteria for that product until the product is pleasant no longer. I can think of scores of examples: too-tannic red , over-roasted and over-extracted coffee, weirdly fruity-estery ale, too-oaky white , huge pieces of what should be delicate sashimi, etc.
Super-size me! And while you’re at it…super-size all the subtlety of anything, too!
Does this make sense?
The pumped-target of the day, today…is hot sauce. Why oh why do we play such macho games with hot sauce, often requiring that its chief criterion be supernatural heat? Why do our hot-sauce names often draw on the imagery of either thermonuclear war, or insanity?
What’s wrong with a hot sauce that shows off the flavor of its principal ingredient, chiles–not their heat, but their flavor? As well as the skill of the sauce-maker in blending seasonings, adding the right touch of vinegar, aging the stuff perfectly, etc.? There are some hot sauces that taste like specific chiles; I love those. There are some with velvety textures, which can be magnificent on certain foods (like eggs). There are some hot sauces that can be analyzed for complexity as you’d analyze. I love all of these.
You simply have to keep buying hot sauces to develop your “hot-sauce palate.” They are cheap enough! Keep a collection in your kitchen of the ones you like, and use them for different jobs.
One job I will not perform is scalding off the epithelial layer of cells on my tongue. If I ever produce and market a hot sauce, I’ll call it “Dave’s Mildly Disturbed Hot Sauce.”