Tag Archives: Hot Sauce

Some like it Hot

While it’s not necessarily the best economic development, it is fantastic news for those of us who think the domestic palate needs radical de-sissification. For too long we’ve lived in a desert of blandness where food is prepared to coddle the most sensitive tongues. So I have to admit I was delighted to see hot sauce production rank as the 8th fastest growing U.S. industry in a recent IBIS World Special Report.

During our travels we’ve noticed the changes too. From the growing number of hot sauce bars, like Peppers of Key West, to spicy menu options that actually have some spice, our nation’s taste for heat is definitely on an upward trend.

That trend is easily explained by the glorious proliferation of ethnic cuisine making its way through the U.S. along with an expanding population of immigrants from spice loving regions. But what explains our taste for spicy food more generally?

Surprisingly, that question still confounds scientists. Spice isn’t a flavor like sweet or sour. It is pure pain, indistinguishable by the body from the kind caused by a physical burn.

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BYOB Bar

Peppers of Key West Image

Key West is known for its bars, but Peppers is the only one I’m aware of that encourages patrons to bring their own beer and chicken wings. Serving up over 100 different sauces, marinades, dry rubs, dips and salsas in their tasting bar, Peppers is a truly unique retail experience. Our “bartender” lined up shot after shot of sauces, twenty in all, to be sampled with complementary tortilla chips. We started with sweet and smoky barbeque sauces and gradually increased the heat.

By the end I had progressed all the way to Melinda’s Original Naga Jolokia Pepper Sauce. The Naga Jolokia pepper, also known as the Ghost Chile, is the hottest pepper in the world. With a whopping 1 million Scoville Units it contains the heat of 200 Jalapeños. That is one mean pepper, and Melinda’s is one mean sauce. I love spicy food, but I had to throw in the towel after a small taste of that one, which isn’t even the hottest sauce in the bar. Maybe with a little training, I can come back and take on the whole line up. But for now, No Mas!

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