“Do you take Hartford?”
The elegant sari-clad matriarch nodded kindly in my direction as I filled my plate at one of those pot luck events that brighten the dim memories of my postdoctoral tenure. I puzzled over the query for a few moments before responding.
“No, I live in New Haven”.
It was her turn to look puzzled. She repeated the question, nodding vigorously at my plate. Still at sea, I pondered a while before managing a weak, “I hear Hartford is quite nice”. She stalked away in a huff, while I was left staring at my plate. It was only after I bit into a bright green chili that a flash of endorphin-elicited pleasurable pain cleared my sinuses and synapses allowing me to decode her peculiar brand of American-Indian accent. I ought to have replied, unequivocally, “Yes, I love hot food”.
Some people feel the rush of exhilaration when they exercise. I only feel the pain. For me, bliss is the trigger of capsaicin receptors releasing a flood of calcium ions into my pain and heat sensing neurons. I note with interest that the structure of capsaicin (8-methyl–N–vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is related to that of vanillin, the heavenly flavoring favorite of ice cream. Indeed, the capasaicin receptor (discovered by my colleague, Mike Caterina) belongs to the vanilloid subgroup of the Transient Receptor Potential family of ion channels, mercifully abbreviated to TRPV1.
So when a friend sent me a recipe for fresh Sriracha sauce, affectionately known as Rooster sauce, I made an emergency trip to my favorite Korean Mart to find red chili peppers. This recipe is so darned easy, that it really should not deserve its own blog post, were it not imperative to exhort every one of you to give it a try. You will never buy that commercial red paste in the squeezy plastic bottle again. You know, the one that’s been on your refrigerator door for at least a decade. Throw it out. Now.
I doubled the original recipe (I had a premonition that this one would be a keeper. Besides, I’ve yet to receive a bad recipe from my friend Marc):
1 pound of red chilies
8 cloves of garlic
2 tsp kosher (coarse) salt
2 cups white distilled vinegar
4 tbs palm or regular sugar
- The recipe called for red Fresno chilies, but these were what I found (they are about 6-8 inches long)
- Chop them into chunks.
- Add garlic cloves, salt and vinegar. Let sit overnight (I refrigerated them) to allow the heat to mellow.
- The next day, bring the chili mix to a boil then continue to boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar. Let cool. Blend. The recipe called for the sauce to be strained, but I didn’t bother.
That’s it, you’re done! Bottle it, give it away, serve it on cream cheese and bagels and use it as creatively as you wish. It turns more mellow upon keeping and lasts forever in the refrigerator (nothing is going to grow in all that vinegar and chili); except of course, it will be consumed well before that. Check out the original recipe in the link; there is a promising suggestion for a chili mayonnaise spread.
On the subject of hilarious conversations with crossed wires, I have two more favorites to share with you. The first is from the inimitable Bertie Wooster of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves series.
Bertie is pretending to be Gussie Fink-Nottle, and is trying to tell a joke to Dame Daphne Winkworth and her four maiden sisters.
Bertie:. Uh, yes, there are these three deaf chaps on a train, and it stops at Wembley.
Charlotte Devrill: What’s he doing?
Harriet Deverill: Mr Fink-Nottle is telling an anecdote.
Bertie: Anyway, there it is at Wembley, and one of the chaps says, “Is this Wembley?” and the other one says, “No, it’s Thursday!”
Charlotte Deverill: What did he say?
Harriet Deverill: He said, “No, it’s Thursday.”
Charlotte Deverill: Not it’s not; it’s Friday. I know because I changed my library book.
Myrtle Deverill: It’s a joke Charlotte!
Bertie: Thank you. Um, so then the third one says, “So am I. Let’s go out and have a drink!”
Myrtle Deverill: It’s a joke about drink Charlotte!
Bertie: No, it’s not about drink, it’s about, um…
Harriet Deverill: But why did the first man bring up the days of the week?
Myrtle Deverill: No, the first man is the one who says, “Is this Wimbledon?”
Bertie: No, no…
Emmeline Deverill: No, that was the second man!
Dame Daphne Winkworth: Let Mr Fink-Nottle finish his joke before we judge it!
Bertie: Well, that was it, actually.
Charlotte Deverill: Is it about tennis, perhaps?
Dame Daphne Winkworth: I don’t care for jokes about tennis.
The other is this gem from Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers. Enjoy!