Burning Fear – Austin’s 22nd Annual Hot Sauce Festival
Pain is NOT a flavor! -Russell & Mattie Lewis August, 2008
I don’t remember the first time I tried hot sauce or tasted my first hot pepper. I cannot recall exactly when hot sauce became an everyday way of life. Or even when I realized that I had become addicted to the endorphin releasing Capsaicin (the stuff that makes peppers HOT). Growing up in West Texas, peppers, salsas and hot sauces were everywhere; at the grocery stores, Tex-Mex restaurants and certainly in many kitchens. Numerous people I grew up with actually made their own hot sauces and often would create new recipes just to add variety. No, I don’t remember when or where it began for me BUT I do remember the hottest pepper I have ever consumed because frankly, that’s something you don’t ever forget!
I was sitting in a small thatched hut/cafe at the edge of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula having a light breakfast. Along with a guide, 4 adults and a group of Boy Scouts that included my son, we were preparing to start a backpacking expedition through the jungle and rainforest of Corcovado National Park to a research station on the Pacific Coast. Sitting by the open air window, I spotted a plant covered with numerous small, red, bullet shaped peppers. I said something about the convenience and freshness of a freshly picked pepper and plucked one from the bush. Slicing it in half, I shared it with my son, minced it and added it to the last couple of bites and devoured it in a couple of bites. Did I mention that my son did this too?
Within moments a searing …no…scorching heat began to burn our entire mouth, throat and (I guess caused by the fumes) our nasal passages. I looked over at my son whose face began to turn as red as mine felt and we both gasped and began eating some bread and drinking water. Of course it did little to alleviate the still growing pain as we did not have any of the traditional means of quelling the heat of hot peppers! At that point everyone was finishing up, strapping on backpacks and preparing to begin our days hike. We began hiking to swimming hole which was our first stop about an hour and a half away. Still…the heat persisted and in fact seemed to get even HOTTER as we hiked. More than once my son asked if this burning was going to stop and WHEN? All I could do was shrug and say, soon…hopefully…By the time we reached the beautiful swimming hole we were both pouring sweat from the heat/humidity AND that deadly little pepper but the pain had finally subsided! A refreshing swim helped wash away the sweat but it was a bit longer before either of us could actually taste anything!
Pain is STILL not a Flavor! -Russell & Mattie Lewis August, 2010
I tell this story only as a late word of caution to those attended the 2012 Austin Hot Sauce Festival, the world s largest and arguably HOTTEST Hot Sauce Festival. There were over 350 hot sauces judged but few winners in each category. I’ve written about this event several times including my take of the heat aspect of some of the more demented chili heads in Pleasure & Pain at The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Contest. However, I was especially interested in this year’s competition because my daughter and I had hoped to finally make it into the Hall of Flame (a list of all time winners). We have individually and separately entered the competition almost every year and have accumulated 2 First Places. One Second Place and an honorable mention. Technically we should already be there because 8 of the top 10 have three awards apiece (but not 2 first place trophies). So in spite of the extremely hot competition, this year, I made 3 entries for the special variety category. Our previous, award winning Peach/Red Pepper Salsa, a Watermelon/Serrano Salsa and finally a new concoction; an avocado/jalapeno salsa. Pictured at right, I was extremely happy with all three and though they missed winning, they are now in the Lewis Family permanent Recipe Collection and…I already have ides for new recipes for NEXT YEAR!
Win or Lose, it was a true Austin, Texas event and if you missed this one, you need to make it out next year for a guaranteed good time! Click on the Hot Sauce Map for directions and maybe learn why so many people like it HOT! The event also supports a great cause, Capital Area Food Bank and entry is only three healthy, nonperishable food donations or a cash donation! So maybe I will see you there next year and remember, just take a tiny taste when sampling something new. You can never tell how high the index can climb with some of these hot sauces and you don’t want go through your own personal “Jungle Pepper ” ordeal!
My name is Russell Lewis, I have twenty two years experience assisting buyers and sellers in Austin’s finest neighborhoods. I am not all things to all people and concentrate the majority of my business in Central, West and Southwest Austin, Bee Cave/Lakeway and the Westlake/Eanes School District. If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate and would like to learn more about living The Good Life in Austin Texas I would be happy to be of assistance. Email or call my mobile number for a private consultation at your convenience!
Originally Posted at Active Rain: http://activerain.com/blogsview/3421529/burning-fear-austin-s-22nd-annual-hot-sauce-festival