[CH] consumer comment

Alex Silbajoris (72163.1353@compuserve.com)
Tue, 19 May 1998 06:11:38 -0400

About sauce preferences - 

Many people new to the chile-head scene, or largely ignorant of it, tend to
think of sauce quality only as a matter of heat intensity.  For some
people, a very small amount of heat is all they can comfortably handle. 
Others dive into the strongest pepper extracts.  So,  many sauces are
marketed on the basis of their heat level, and there is a world of false
claims out there - and people on this list love to skewer them.  Some sauce
makers sprinkle their labels with flames and skulls and devils, but you can
find a different attitude behind product names like Inner Beauty and
Perfect Balance - which BTW can often be hotter than many of the

(People speak of "gateway drugs" that lead to stronger drugs ... probably
true of hot sauces, too.  I started my father out on Frank's and Tabasco,
then moved him up to Yucatan Sunshine, then Sontava, and now I've planted a
Walker's Wood in his refrigerator.)

The style of the sauce is another matter.  Different types of sauces match
different foods or flavoring purposes, and that makes it tough to select a
single favorite sauce that would be better than any other in all
applications.  Some foods do just fine with the most ordinary red "Louisana
hot sauce" with its salty, simple taste.  Fragrant habanero sauces with
fruity flavor elements might be perfect for a grilled fish, or an aromatic
soup like a good curry, or aromatic grilling like jerked meats.  Heavy,
garlicy, paste-like sauces appear in a lot of Asian/Pacific Rim cuisine, as
do entirely different hot/sweet sauces.  And (though I know many here will
disagree) the much-scoffed Tabasco has its unique aromatic effect on many
foods, when used in correct (usually very small) quantities.

I try to consider the quality of a sauce in terms of the purity of its
ingredients.  Since commercial producers tend to strive for perfectly
uniform appearance batch-to-batch, they tend to color their sauces heavily.
 So many red sauces are RED RED RED, even the thin little runners of sauce
clinging to the glass - kind of like some cheap red wines, actually.  Or
the famous El Yucateco green is this electric, vivd green that looks
ghastly on a plate of good black beans.  (Tastes better than it looks, at
least.)  A look at the ingredients shows blue and yellow food colorings. 
Mmmm!  Fact is, if you mix red and green peppers, you get a brown mix that
doesn't look "right" to the typical American consumer.

At the other extreme you can find pure, simple sauces that have few
ingredients and unique flavors.  Jim Campbell's Ralph's Righteous habanero
sauce is a good example - he formulated it as a response to hab sauces
loaded with onions and carrots.  The result is a brown appearance only a
chile-head could love, and an aroma that is exactly like sniffing a
freshly-cut hab.  It brings a pure hab flavor to foods, not just a faceless

The thing I like about trying new sauces is seeing where they fit into this
picture.  I already have a good idea of what the cheap and typical sauces
taste like, but I'm often intrigued by new formulas that seem to become
more numerous every week.  What foods will this new sauce match best?  One
way to find out...

     Alex Silbajoris  72163.1353@compuserve.com
     Spotted T-Shirt Squad member