IMHO Installment #42: Chances Are You Don't Love Salsa As Much As I Do

14 May 2007

I'm a 50-50 mix; half Irish, half Italian. There's no logical reason I should be so drawn to or affected by a particular condiment (unless you somehow count salt or olive oil). But, in fact, I've gotten myself into near brawls over condiments, so perhaps it's just my destiny.

I've never been to Mexico and I'm not so deluded as to believe that "chips and salsa" is anything more than some marketing scheme that emerged thanks to big-chain Tex-Mex restaurants. But, who cares? Salsa totally rules and I eat it every chance I get!

Has salsa been around forever? I really don't know. Seems, though, like its rise is/was somehow linked to the whole Tex-Mex restaurant phenom, beginning in the 80s or so. I think it all peaked in the late 90s. Remember that Seinfeld episode in which Jerry says that people love salsa so much because the word itself is so fun to say? That was salsa's peak.

But, I'm straying from my thesis -- that I probably like salsa more than you do. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. First, I think salsa is appropriate as a meal.

2. Usually, half a jar will do for a meal (with chips, of course). However, sometimes I get a little too excited over a particularly good batch and over-eat (beyond my initial "goal" of half the jar).

3. In fact, I've noticed that there's a particular point, when dining on salsa for dinner, at which it's better to just go ahead and eat the entire jar rather than putting away just a small amount.

4. Back in the mid-'90s, I wrote a letter to the president of Chi-Chi's. They'd changed their salsa to some "New Mex" variety, and I wasn't a happy camper. I wish I had a copy to post here, but that letter's long lost. Still, I can recall a few lines. I'd complained that their "New Mex" had effectively "relegated me to my own living room with a bag of generic chips and a jar of Ortega" (instead of eating at their restaurant any longer). I signed the letter "Crestfallen and salsa-less." A few weeks later, I received a $20 gift certificate from the corporate office. Sounds like something a 12-year-old would do, right? I was probably 25 at the time.

5. My favorite salsa, currently, is Desert Pepper Peach Mango, a sweet, medium-hot variety made in El Paso. This is my preferred option for those days when I know I'm in the mood for an entire jar at one sitting. But, I'm also enamoured lately with a kind called Geronimo Broken Arrow. Oddly, the medium Geronimo is hotter than their hot (so I buy the medium).

6. I tend to go for the "small batch" salsas as opposed to the generic Ortegas, Tostito's, Old Elpasoes, etc. Don't get me wrong -- I'll devour almost any salsa put in front of me. But, I really like the more unusual stuff -- the experimental double-roasteds, the odd-ball Trader Joe's varieties, heavy- or light-garlic mixtures, the innovative blends of rare peppers and sweet fruits. I have a habanero-lime concoction on deck right now that looks (based on the ingredients and the way it looks through the glass) to be a true classic.

7. I make my own salsa in the summer (though, I still haven't figured out how the jar varieties are almost always better tasting to me).

8. Even when salsa is bad, it's usually still pretty good to me.

9. Whenever I have gazpacho, I think of it as a weak salsa.

10. I used to be a fat slob with high blood pressure, and had to cut back on my salsa intake. This, in part, motivated me to start jogging and get my ass in better shape. (Similar to how pancakes also motivated me to run.) The healthier I am, the more salsa I can eat. Nowadays, I'm eating it more than ever, and I've never felt better!

All thanks to salsa.

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On May 14, 2007, Reg wrote:

Patrick - Up here in the neatherlands my family makes our own salsa every summer with all of the ingredients out of my parents garden. Last year we did 190 pint mason jars of the stuff. We tend to boil ours down so the salsa gets really thick. I think the key to flavour is in the tomatoes. We may have to go into this in greater detail by email.

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