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Hot Librarian

August 31, 2009

I have a friend.  Let’s call her Jen.  She’s a librarian.  And one Halloween, she had the best costume ever.  She went as a hot librarian.  I think she had a whip, or a riding crop, but it could have been a stiff ruler.  It was hot.  I wanted to give her all my overdue books…if you know what I mean.

This is not about that.  Thankfully.

There are several things that I keep libraries of in my pantry.  I have a library of aromatic cocktail bitters.  There is the library of rice varieties, in both refined and brown versions.

And then there is the library I came here to discuss: my library of pepper sauces.

There are many ways to divide the world.  For now we can focus on those who like spicy things and those who do not.  I fall firmly into the former, although my body used to be better at dealing with the assault on its delicate organs.

Still I enjoy spicy food.  Perhaps I am a bit more selective about how often I ask for things very spicy.

Cooking at home, there are lots of ways to add heat to a dish.  You can build spice into the flavor base, such as in putanesca when you start with anchovies, garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil* in a cold pan.  You can add a few very spicy dried peppers into a stew.  You can toast ground spices as you incorporate them with sautéed celery, onions and green peppers for the classic dishes of Louisiana.

But sometimes you want a little more heat at the table.  And that is where the pepper sauce comes in.

Do not be fooled into thinking that hot pepper sauce, or even all cayenne pepper sauce, is merely a commodity.  Each brand of cayenne pepper sauce has its own unique characteristics that work better with some things and not as well as others.  Sure, you may have a favorite.  Maybe it’s Tabasco, maybe it’s Frank’s Red Hot.

But regardless of your favorite, there are times when your favorite will not do.  As much as I love my Frank’s Red Hot, it’s not going near my red beans and rice.  And as much as I like Tabasco, it’s not going near my Michelada.

And that’s why it’s important to have a library of pepper sauces around the house.  You’ll never know which one you will need, so it’s best to keep them all on hand.  It’s not as if they are expensive, or have speedy expiration dates.  All you need is the will and the space.

Now, if you do not care for pepper sauce, the next few weeks will be as dull for you as the last were for those who do not care for cheese.

Perhaps over the next few weeks as I discuss the ins and outs and pros and cons of the individual bottles of my hot sauce library, you may even be inspired to give one a try.  Just because they come bottled doesn’t mean that you have to see their contents as a finished product.  People have been known to doctor jarred pasta sauce, and you can tinker with pepper sauce to take down the heat to your liking.

There will be more on this in the weeks to come.  And the first one you will have to look forward to is my personal favorite, Frank’s Red Hot.

These are truly exciting times.

*Note: On the FLB all olive oil is extra virgin unless noted otherwise, but I eschew the acronyms of the other famous Capital Region food enthusiast.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2009 12:42 pm

    ugh rachel ray & her idiotic EVOO!

  2. August 31, 2009 1:42 pm

    Kind of a random thought, but the hottest thing I have ever owned is Blair’s 2AM sauce. Wow. You could make dozens and dozens of wings with just a drop or two of this stuff in the mixture. It had some crazy Scoville rating of 650-900k. The hottest thing I could eat just straight up and really enjoy was the Blair’s Mega Death. It was around 550k Scoville. That stuff is awesome.

  3. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    August 31, 2009 3:45 pm

    Frank’s tastes like bad chicken wings (largely because it’s a primary ingredient in chicken wings, one of the worst ideas to ever come out of Buffalo).

  4. August 31, 2009 4:05 pm

    I love hot sauces! I contend it’s my tongue that’s holding me back, but I still enjoy adding a teensy drop of the stuff to my food (when everyone else is adding dollops) for some kick.

    I was skeptical about chipotle Tabasco (I heard about it after chipotle became a popular thing to add to just about everything) but one of my girlfriends really got me hooked on the stuff.

  5. brownie permalink
    August 31, 2009 7:00 pm

    Today’s word jumble:

    Extra virgin librarian will add heat with riding crop to Frank’s organs. Some like it hot and spicy, others who are delicate will stew.

    Much overdue.

  6. Jenny permalink
    August 31, 2009 8:43 pm

    Excuse me, young man. I think your hot sauce book is overdue. The call number began with TX819.H66.

    Hot wings were the only thing besides DR’s cooking that ever seriously tempted me when I was a vegetarian. It could just be a nostalgia thing, having grown up near Buffalo, but I really crave the Frank’s for wings and not much else.

  7. Raf permalink
    September 1, 2009 1:22 pm

    I love that when Mr. Sunshine refers to chicken wings, he means buffalo wings. I guess it’s not surprising given your location (they don’t call it Italian food in Italy, they call it food).

    Jen – Come visit and I’ll totally cook for you.

  8. September 1, 2009 2:57 pm

    wait, there are people who don’t care for pepper sauce? i guess i make up for their lack of usage because i tend to sprinkle, nay, douse it on everything i eat. :)

  9. January 27, 2017 1:34 pm

    Whatever happened to your hot sauce library? It seems like all you’ve mentioned in recent years is Frank’s Red Hot. Makes me sad if all those other flavors are drying out in their bottles

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