When people find out about my hot sauce hobby and the reviewing aspect of it, they have a wide range of questions. One of the best questions to start a lengthy conversation on the topic is, “Have you ever had a hot sauce that you think is terrible?” The short answer is easy. Yes. Yes, I have had terrible sauces. I’ve had sauces that aren’t hot sauce, sauces that taste like garbage, and sauces that no one should have ever manufactured and put in a bottle. However, you still can’t judge anything by your initial impression. Much like people, hot sauces change in different circumstances. If you take them at their initial face value, you may be missing something amazing or complex beneath the surface. The best option is to sample your sauces in a variety of ways before you form an opinion or write off a sauce or
I recently reviewed a hot sauce that I found to be terrible with my first spoonful. It was gritty, the flavors weren’t in sync, it seemed all over the board. I was perfectly content to write it off as a terrible sauce, give it the most positive spin possible for its review (after all, no one has the same palate, and who am I to tell someone they won’t like a thing?), and never try it again. Fortunately for me, (and much like with alcohol) I find it to be an incredible waste to throw away a bottle or dump it just because you don’t like something about it. I decided to dedicate the next few meals to utilizing this bottle up so I could have it out of my life and get another one stocked in its place. I drizzled it on my lunch the next day, which was a Southwestern themed bowl of riced cauliflower with some earthy-spicy seasonings, chicken and some vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised! The gritty texture disappeared into the meal without any trace, and the gentle heat complimented the earthy flavor of the dish without overpowering it. It still wasn’t my favorite sauce, but it improved drastically. The following evening, I had chili for dinner. I dumped some of this in the mild bowl and found it to be even better than the first dish!
The point of this is not that I suddenly enjoyed the hot sauce, or that it’s now one of my favorites. It’s that you can find a dish to compliment most sauces. I still don’t really like this one. I won’t be purchasing a bottle for my personal stock. I did find a decent use for it, and I emptied the bottle as I had planned, but I found a way to make it more enjoyable. It irritates me when I see people who leave angry or negative reviews about food products. I don’t take those reviews seriously. It’s fine if you don’t enjoy something, but before you decide to bash the product or the manufacturer, take the time to try it in a different setting or dish. Have I had bad hot sauce? Yes, but I’ve also had good hot sauce that was simply on the wrong meal.