Yup, to this day, that's the reason why I don't like ketchup. At least, it's the reason I tell myself why. It's convenient enough and makes a neat little story. It's kind of ironic, seeing that I live in Pittsburgh literally just a few miles upriver from the original Heinz factory. But the truth is, I don't like most condiments. Not ketchup. Not mayo. Mustard, only occasionally. I don't even like most salad dressings. I think some of it has to do with the farty sounds they sometimes make when squeezed out of the bottle. But, mostly, I just flat out don't like them.
Except hot sauce. I will always make an exception for hot sauce. As evidence, you could see my recently polished off glass gallon jug of Trappey's Red Devil. Or instead of traipsing all the way over to my house (the last thing I need right now is a stalker or two), you can see the picture above of my recent purchase, Trader Joe's Habenero Hot Sauce. This is a serious hot sauce. As a lover of many hot 'n spicy things, I have a natural inclination to discount most things that say they're hot - I figure most products manufactured for mass distribution will not be enough to satisfy my capsaicin cravings, and so I severely underestimated this when dousing some chicken breasts with this sauce as I was about to sample it for the first time. That was an awful, awful mistake. "Liquid fire" isn't adequate enough description. Nor is David Letterman's old saying of "Hotter than a dancing bobcat with its ass on fire," whatever that means. It's freakin' hot. Sandy was in the kitchen with me, and I think gasped out something along the lines of "Close your eyes!" - not because I didn't want her to see me tear up (which I was), but for a moment or two I wasn't sure if the Ark of the Covenant somehow got cracked open in our kitchen. The hot sauce was so hot, and my mouth in so much pain, that if it were a reasonable solution to remove my head and put it in the freezer for a while, I would have. As you can tell by perusing the ingredients list, it's water and some habeneros that have had the heck Slapchopped out of them, and that's about it. It's thick, a little gloppy, orangish, and flat out hot. Respect it.
And you know what? I genuinely like it. Just trust me when I say a little bit goes a long way. I've dripped some a couple times since while making myself a quick quesadilla, and it's much more tolerable then. One thing I definitely like is, although it's face-meltingly hot, it doesn't cover up the flavor of food as the heat builds and builds in the back of your throat. I know it'll take me a while to work through the bottle, and I'll probably dabble with some other hot sauce in the meantime, but the habenero hot sauce has itself a new fan. Sandy's not as crazy as I am, and seeing that she's had some heartburn, etc, recently, she hasn't given it a try and I kinda have some doubts that she ever will -truthfully, this is out of the league for most folks. Not me, though. Although it's almost enough to make me go all Homer Simpson on*, it's a winner in my book.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Habenero Hot Sauce: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
*I'm completely divided as to whether or not the hot sauce making me having a hallucination that consists of Johnny Cash speaking in cartoon coyote form would make me like it more or less. On one hand, it's Johnny Cash as a cartoon coyote. On the other, well, I'd probably need to be checked out afterwards.