Monday, September 19, 2005

The Itinerant Librarian Visits the Houston Hot Sauce Fest

For the second time, we decided to go visit the Houston Hot Sauce Fest. We caught it last year shortly after we moved to Houston for my job. This is a two day event, usually in the middle of September, where people can go sample and buy hot sauce and other spicy foods. As it is a fest, they have music and other craft vendors. There is also a competition for the spicy food makers, and people attending can vote on their favorites in various categories, such as the hottest sauce in the fest. I had to work this Saturday, but as soon as I got off work, we had lunch and then went over. The day itself was a scorcher, and we had not even tried out the first sample. The festival takes place at the grounds out on State Highway 6, and while it is under roof, it is still very hot overall. Maybe next year I will go in the morning. We got to try out various sauces, salsas, and jellies. Who knew you could make jellies and jams with stuff like jalapeños and chipotle? Actually, some of the vendors make some excellent jams with berries and peppers. They have just a little kick, but nothing extreme. Now, when it comes to trying out hot sauces, a little word of advice. If they tell you just a little, take just a little. I was lulled into a sense of false security after trying a sample of allegedly hot sauce that was anything but hot. So, as I walked along, I saw another booth with a sign claiming to be the "hottest sauce in the festival." After the previous sample, I told myself, "how hot could it be?" Never understimate the claims or the power of a really hot sauce. I tried that one sample, known as the Black Mamba, and I think I lost the top layer of my taste buds. Of course, like most good hot sauces, the kick does not hit right away. So, you swallow the chip with the sauce and figure you are ok until it hits about three seconds later. My mouth burned; I could barely stay still as my throat hurt and my eyes watered. There was not enough water to extinguish the burn, which lasted for about five to ten minutes. I think the guy at the booth had a good laugh over the fool who put such large amount on his chip. But damn, that was good sauce, well worth the burn. The event overall had a good sized crowd, but I don't think it was too crowded. You could walk around fine. As they also feature a kids area, we watched our daughter get her face painted (she chose a dragon design) and slide down the large air slide. As our time came to an end, we bought a few jellies, a jar of sauce or two, and a very nice margarita mix and a daiquiri mix both made out of cactus, which the missus and I will be mixing later with some Cuervo or Bacardi. She is more partial to rum and daiquiris; I am more flexible. All in all, it was a nice afternoon.

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