Monday, August 25, 2008

That's Hot

This past Sunday at Waterloo Park The Austin Chronicle’s 18th annual Hot Sauce Festival took place where hundreds of folks gathered together in the sweltering heat to sample sauces even hotter. Contestants included individuals, restaurants, and commercial bottlers with each group judged separately. Entries were tasted by a panel of judges including Austin restaurateurs and executive chefs Tyson Cole (Uchi), Jack Gilmore (Z’Tejas), and Alan Lazarus (Vespaio). The winners of the contest have been announced and can be found here. Congratulations to them all!

If foods help to define a region, hot sauce (salsa in particular) could easily define Texas. However, in 1992, salsa overtook ketchup as the highest selling condiment in the United States, so it may in fact more accurately define America (J. Andrews; “Chili Peppers”, Encyclopedia of Food and Culture). Either way, I think you’ll find few hot sauce festivals outside of Texas, and the Austin Public Library has a number of excellent salsa cookbooks for you to prepare your own award-winning sauce. Check them out:

The Great Hot Sauce Book

The Hot Sauce Bible

Nueva Salsa: Recipes to Spice it Up

Secrets of Salsa: A Bilingual Cookbook by the Mexican Women of Anderson Valley (or, Secretos de la Salsa)

Don’t miss the Chronicle’s coverage of this year’s Festival:

“Let Commercial Bottler Winners Add Some Spice to Your Cooking”
Article about some of the best commercial bottles of hot sauce out there

”Saucy Proposals"
Recipes using commercial bottle sauces

”Who’s a Pepper?”
Interesting look at the history of Pace Picante sauce

And for fun:

Hot Sauce Blog
Dedicated to all sauces and foods that are hot and spicy

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