I don’t know if you have ever noticed it, but human beings, especially Southern human beings are a unique species. Most species that walk, fly, swim or even crawl, if danger approaches, they turn and as fast as they can possibly do so, leave the area. Not the human, especially the Southern version, they have a uncontrollable desire to see if they can beat the odds, and conquer that which most species would refrain from even attempting. And what makes it even worse, even with a chorus of, ”don’t do it” ringing in their ears from friends and relations alike, they can not control themselves. I’m not talking about bungee jumping, hang gliding, or even swimming with the sharks.
No this is something simple, simple as shaking a little bottle, a bottle of liquid Hades know as “Hot Sauce.”
That’s right folks; Southern people for some unknown reason have the desire to see if they can burn the taste buds completely off their tongue. If it were possible to get liquid lava in a bottle, somebody would shake it on their grits, and just as soon as they took the first bite, the next thing out of their mouth would be, “Pass the pepper, this doesn’t have any bite.”
Doesn’t have any bite? The top of your head shines like somebody waxed it from the sweat popping out on it! And then they want you to try a bite. I remember one time we had some company over, a couple days before a guy at the sub sandwich shop had gave her some hot sauce, and she asked if they would like to try it. Now she told them the guy had told her to just dab a little on a tooth pick, that was all you needed, or really could stand. So one of the guys, who shall remain nameless, just sticks a French fry right down in it, and pops it in his mouth. And just before he bites in to it he passes it to the other fellow, just as Mel, for the third time, says, don’t do that!
I not sure which came first, the water pouring out of every pore, or the blood vessels turning the first guy bright red. All this while trying to tell his buddy, “STOP”. I say trying, because no words left his mouth, leastways any that sounded human. That was about the time the other guy bit in to the French fry. He looked like Wiley Coyote after the anvil landed on his foot, I didn’t know a human could turn that many shades of red.
But believe it or not, there are two seasons of the year when this desire to cremate your tongue seems to overcome us, in the summer and in the winter. Every summer, be it in a corner of the garden, or a pot on the porch, there is a couple little green plants that we cultivate with tender loving care. And once they turn that perfect shade of green, with a touch of red on the tip, we know our patience has been rewarded. They have such unassuming names such as cayenne, and banana, that is ’til you bite into one. Just ask my nephew Boogaloo, he bit into one Sunday, and he thought his world had come to an end. “Boog, don’t rub your eyes, you’ll only make it worse!”
Then comes winter, or more especially Christmas Time! All over the Low Country, the pits are lit, and there is the smell of hawgs slowly smoking themselves in to that delight we know as Bar B Que. But the one question you hear, where ever you go is, “The sauce got any kick to it?” Folks every body has their own sauce, but the main ingredients are basically the same. Around here it’s vinegar, red pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and last but not least, crushed red pepper. And oh what the heck, let’s throw in some Texas Pete. So if you’re not accustomed to eating lava straight out the volcano, and the answer to the question of it having a little kick to it is, “Just a little,” make sure you have a glass of your favorite beverage close by when you take that first bite.
But you would think after a few generations, we would have lost the desire for cooking ourselves from the inside out. Once the bunch of us was at a Bar B Que, and the host looked at one of my daughters and said, “Be careful darling, that Bar B Que’s sauce is on the hot side.” After the first bite, her only reply to him was, “You got any hot sauce?” … He was dumbfounded …
Me? I just stood there beaming with pride!
You can reach Robbin Bruce by e-mail at email@example.com.
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