Friday, November 3, 2017

Dexter Holland’s Hot Sauce | Lefsetz Letter

I’m addicted.

We never ate hot sauce when I was a child, it was not a thing, food was bland, vegetables were boiled and my taste buds were fresh. But as I’ve aged I’ve required a little zest to spice up my food. As a matter of fact, I employ Tabasco each and every day, usually with Bob’s Market’s chicken salad.

That’s right, the market is named after me! And before Santa Monica outlawed plastic bags I had a plethora of name brand merchandise! And I never ate chicken salad, hell, it was years before I even ate tuna salad! I’d sneer when my mother made it. I was all about fried bologna, I even ate fried eggs back then, even though I won’t touch the progeny of chickens in any recognizable form these days (unrecognizable is cool, especially in ice cream!) But as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more experimental, hell, there’s little I won’t eat other than eggs and liver, I’ve got to have sea urchin with a quail egg at every sushi bar, the weirder the better, and I’m burning out on so many of my staples, but not Bob’s chicken salad.

Really, what they’re selling is meat. Bob’s is all about the butcher shop. But not only do I not cook, I don’t know how to! I no longer go out for every meal, but I buy prepared stuff. And Whole Foods is expensive but bland. And Gelson’s is expensive and good, but geographically inconvenient. So I’m left with Bob’s.

So I decided to try the chicken salad.

I don’t want too much mayonnaise. But Bob’s is thick, mostly chicken. Bob’s chicken salad is almost like eating a breast. Whereas everybody else’s is some gooey mess and…

The point is I cannot burn out on Bob’s chicken salad.

But I only eat it with hot sauce, without it it’s too bland.

Oh, not too bland for the hoi polloi, but for my aged taste buds, and I’ve come to need that Tabasco zest in order to be satiated, in order to survive.

Yes, Tabasco. Mostly traditional red. Very occasionally green. And I keep a bottle of chipotle around, but I’ve got a love/hate relationship with it. And speaking of Chipotle, you’ve got to listen to Guy Raz’s podcast “How I Built This” with Steve Ellis, the founder of the chain bearing that name. I once got sick from Chipotle, but this makes me want to go back, I like this guy.

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Anyway, out of the blue Jim Guerinot sends me a sampler of Dexter Holland’s hot sauce.

Dexter Holland… I’m not the biggest Offspring fan. But I respect him, for not being a nitwit. He has a Ph.D., right? And I know he flies Guerinot to Telluride in his jet. He’s a renaissance man.

But I’m sick of brand extensions. Just because you’re famous that doesn’t mean I should be interested in, never mind buy, the products outside your vertical.

But in this case, I LOVE hot sauce, I’m gonna try it out!

Right now the benchmark is Cholula, it’s everywhere, it’s the standard at Two Elk in Vail, where I pour it all over my chili, like I said, I need to spice up EVERYTHING! And basic Cholula is good, and the brand extensions are fascinating, but they don’t wear well, Tabasco does. You never burn out on Tabasco. You check into a hotel, they deliver those breakfast sausages with those tiny little Tabasco bottles, MMM! Although I will say opening those little bottles is damn near impossible. It’s the seal. And once you do, you have to shake them violently to get any out. Which makes no sense, since you’re gonna toss the bottle anyway, why not let it all come out, or hang out, like that great song by the Hombres…

So there are three models of Dexter’s Gringo Bandito hot sauce.

There’s the traditional red, which is satisfying, but I still prefer Tabasco.

And then there’s the hot stuff, and once again, Tabasco is preferable.

But then there’s the green stuff…

Now I’m looking for things I can eat so I can use it.

No, hot sauce does not go well with yogurt. But with tuna salad??

I was hungry last night, I was reading Jennifer Egan’s “Manhattan Beach” and I realized I could not go to bed without a few bites of something. And my nutritionist says the Balance bars I devour are like candy bars, so I’m trying to cut down, but I’m not really interested in real food, but then I see some tuna fish in the fridge and a lightbulb goes off, I CAN EAT IT WITH DEXTER’S HOT SAUCE!

So I break out all three flavors. Testing them once again. But it’s the green I cannot get enough of.

And I’m thinking of other greens. That one at Campos, it’s pretty spectacular, but it’s much more spicy, that zest is not for every day.

And they don’t have a good green at Poquito Mas.

And I’m wondering where Dexter’s green is on the spectrum…

But then I don’t care. I’m convinced. This is great stuff!

So I go online and Google, and it turns out I’m not the only one. This stuff IS pretty fly for a white guy, someone not from south of the border.

And salsa has eclipsed ketchup. Our entire nation is one of gourmands. So I know many people don’t care, then again many do.

And in Southern California, the shelves are littered with hot sauce brands.

And to tell you the truth, I have not tasted them all. But I have tasted a lot. But most are one and done, I don’t need any more.

But I’m already worrying about Dexter’s Gringo Bandito green running out. And there’s nothing worse than having chicken or tuna salad without hot sauce. I’ve literally gotten up from the table and run out to buy some, because every meal must resonate.

And every life must have some spice.


Dexter Holland’s Hot Sauce


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