Internet Flames: My Hot Sauce Collection

Dead SoldiersYou’ll never catch me flaming someone…unless my mouth is on fire.

In my twenties (ah, youth!), I started liking hot sauce. Wellll, I developed an affection for hot sauce. OK, obsession. I put hot sauce in or on almost everything I ate. I used one packet of hot sauce on each bite of a fast-food burrito. I discovered lots of sauces that were not just heat, but flavor.

I started collecting the sauces from vacations and specialty shops. I had tasting notes on various sauces and different dishes for using chipotle versus habanero-based sauce. I didn’t collect full bottles anymore- I saved empties. Why let those wonderful sauces sit unused??

I grew my own peppers. I learned that peppers are hotter if watered less frequently so my garden was a desert. One day, I decided that it would be fun to eat one of my habanero peppers whole. These things are about 300-400 times hotter than jalapenos, by the way. I chomped down on the pepper’s tip, the least-hot part of the pepper. Hmm, not bad. Delicious flavor and needle-like heat. I decided to go for the hot part- veins, seeds, all of it (ah, youth!).

The flavor disappeared behind searing heat. My mouth watered uncontrollably. Standing alone in my kitchen over the sink, my mouth watering like a leaky faucet, I groaned from the delicious pain. Oh, it hurt. Oh, it really hurt. But the experience was worth it.

I recently read a blog about simplifying life and focusing on things that increase rather than decrease her family’s pocketbook. My hot sauce collection is not a big money drain, but it does cost money and even more, it costs time to maintain and precious space in my home. I haven’t looked at the collection in three years other than pulling out a bottle to use. It has sat in a dark closet wasting space.

Now, I don’t grow my own peppers. I trade a few bottles of my homebrew for a neighbor’s freshly grown peppers and homemade sauce. Less waste, less cost, and it builds a friendship too.

My collection is growing more and more into a bunch of empty bottles. I used up these two bottles in the picture and was going to write up tasting notes, clean them, and add them to the collection. But it wasn’t worth my time. I don’t need those bottles anymore. So I rinsed them and put them in the recycling bin. This weekend, the rest of the ~150 bottles are going in the bin.

It’s such a small, small thing. But it represents a little piece of me. I used to have the time to do it and now I just don’t. My job is more demanding; my family is more demanding; I’d rather spend the time with friends and family, not polishing some bottles of a collection that nobody sees but me. It is the right thing to do but it just reminds me that I’m not so young and free anymore.