I like my life with a side of spice.
It all started with Tabasco. As a wee young thing, my group of goonies and I doused everything from popcorn and chicken wings to chocolate chip cookies (no we weren’t child prodigal gourmands, we enjoyed food related dares)- with the good, spicy stuff. Maybe I was desensitized to spice at a young age-my Memaw’s best friend is from India, but my tolerance to scoville’s is not rivaled by your average 20-something Caucasian.
My first rant- Most Asian restaurants encourage customers to rank their spice preference on a 1-5 scale, with one being mild and five being anything thing from “extra-spicy” to “Thai Hot.” From my experience, if you are white, they automatically subtract your preference by one before they send the order to the kitchen, thereby I always end up with a plate of veggie filled noodles that aren’t up to my spice-spectations. It wasn’t until I was in Puerto Rico that I found the good stuff that’s spiced with a healthy dose of habaneros- that warms your tastebuds without causing a flaming sensation that demands more than your daily recommendation of fluids in one setting to relieve the burn. El Yucateco Caribbean Habanero and Kubit-ik (an ancient Mayan recipe) hot sauce, where oh where have you been all my life? After smuggling bottles home for fear of never finding a spice to match, I learned they vend this delightful sauce at local Hispanic groceries. Relief…
Another rant- When I purchase herbs or spices at the grocery store, it would be nice if they actually tasted something. Yes, it’s hard to mess up garlic or onion powder, extracts or black pepper- but, I’m tired of having to use a tablespoon of cayenne powder just to get a tingle. I’m not heartless, it doesn’t take me that much to get excited…I took matters into my own hands and had high hopes there must be a solution. We planted a variety of peppers in our summer garden plot, and last week the cayenne’s were kickin’. After picking nearly 100, I washed and trimmed them, before popping them into the dehydrator. Out came crispy, crackly water-free peppers. After a brief grind in the food processor, I had my own eye-watering, extra hot cayenne powder- exactly as I like it. I’m experimenting with habaneros, jalapenos and aji amarillos at the moment and hope they are just as delicious!
I’ve decided, we’re living in a time, when it seems that doing things yourself is a the only way to avoid culinary disappointment.