by Susan Ellis
My friend refers to all comic book stores* as "the geek store." This never fails to come to mind (in an admittedly tangled way) whenever I receive a Cooks Illustrated in the mail because if there's a comic book equivalent for food geeks, this has got to be it.
I don't know enough to be a food geek, but I do love everything about Cooks Illustrated: its no-ads black-and-white seriousness; Kimball's Vermont-weird editor letters; the bursting-with-pride Notes from Readers with solutions to common house-hold challenges; and the thorough products tests at the back.
For the May/June issue, the product being tested is hot sauce.
Hot sauce is ubiquitous around these parts. The copy editor in the cubicle behind me has a bottle at his desk. There are bottles on hand in the breakroom. Bianca made her own Sriracha and has a "I love Sriracha" bumper sticker on her car. Any soup or stew I make is going to be underseasoned, so I tend to sauce-enhance my bowls of soup before even tasting them.
Of the nine hot sauces tasted by Cooks Illustrated, Sriracha ranked first, while Tasbasco was last (not enough salt, too much vinegar).
I was telling my sister about this, and she was mad that Tasbasco bombed. A pride thing, sure, as we grew up in Louisiana. "Outrageous," she said. "Bunch of Yankees don't know anything." The mention of Sriracha further fueled her ire, "Lame. Just a bunch of lemmings following the crowd."
I know some swear loyalty to Louisiana hot sauce (Cook Illustrated's third on the list). Another says Crystal is the best (list included just top-selling brands; Crystal was not on list.)
I like Sriracha because I like the consistency, but, otherwise, I'm pretty sure I couldn't tell the difference.
What are your favorites?
*Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Also, while we're on the topic, the same "geek store" friend includes comic books when mentioning books he's read. Comic books do not count.
... And Frank's RedHot (second on list) is hosting a Buffalo Wing Eating Contest during the Barbecue Fest. Details to come.