Chew on this

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Without hot sauce food has no meaning.

When I was a line cook for four years in the finest underground dining establishment in Eureka Springs, we used Frank's Hot Sauce in gallon jugs. Highly recommended. When you threw some on the grill for a Cajun wrap or whatever, it created clouds of tear gas that would send you running for the back door to get some air.

Tobasco's hard to beat -- like Frank's it falls into the category of Louisiana-style, along with Crystal, Louisiana, Texas Pete, etc. Chipotle Tobasco is the best. You can practically eat it on cereal. Likewise the Louisiana Sweet and Hot wing sauce.

A Vietnamese twist on all the above is the famous Sriracha sauce, an American variant of a traditional Thai hot sauce, made primarily of ground chilies, garlic, vinegar, and salt. Rooter on the label and a lot of Vietnamese writing. Red plastic bottle. Carried by Wal-mart. If you like fish, mix Sirracha and plum sauce and grill the fish in it. A good way to show off for a date unless she hates hot sauce (duh). As good as it gets.

Which brings us slantwise to red beer. I bought one at Diamond Lil's in ES in '94 thinking it was a brand name, like Budweiser or Sam Addams. It's not. Red beer is beer with tomato juice added, just like a beer shandy is beer with ginger ale added or a boilermaker is beer with a shot of whiskey dropped in.

Red beer was a whole 'nother world, but even moreso once I started making my own and pouring different kinds of hot sauce in the beer with the tomato juice. I would get off at the wheel factory end of second shift around 11 o'clock, run up by Rogers Rec pool hall on Dickson St. (this is Fayetteville back before they gentrified/ruined D-St. and cut Roger's Rec in half), and pick up a six pack to go, and be back in my little hole in the wall apartment, up the street upstairs next to the old bowling alley, by midnight. Then I would pour up tall glasses of red beer and sit there and type till four or five a.m., writing crappy poems and stories. I did it for a year, until I met the subsequent girlfriend and she convinced me to move in with her and drink better beer, which alas I did. But while I was in that little apartment drinking my red beers and typing, I was a working writer, I thought. Looking back, it was all kinda low rent, including the beers, but the hot sauce made a big difference.

My 3rd wife grew her own peppers, some of which you couldn't even look at without them setting you on fire. I could never find any hot sauce hot enough for her, except finally up at our own Silly Chili (87 Spring St., on the right.) They sell everything from Mad Dog 357 Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce to Blair's Sudden Death Sauce, but I finally settled on a little glass bottle full of red syrup with a big label with fire and devils on it. "Satan's Blood! 800,000 Scoville units! You must purchase this item at your own risk!" They were right about that. It brought tears to her eyes but she loved it. One drop was almost too much for a gallon pot of beans. It was the peak of our relationship. That and her little red devil outfit, but that's another story.

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