Someone in my family calls me a salsa snob, because I turn up my nose at any salsa that’s not fresh. Hey, if it’s cooked (in New York City !?!) and then sits in a bottle on a shelf for six months, it has a taste and consistency more like baby food than salsa, but that’s just my opinion. When I told a close friend, someone who knows salsa better than anyone in my family, that I was referred to as a snob, she said that I’m not a snob, but instead a salsa “connoisseur.” I prefer aficionado, but connoisseur is pretty cool, too. =)
To digress, and to give perspective, I was born and raised (till I was 14) in the Northeast corner of the U.S. This section was, and still is, more in touch with Chinese and Italian food than Mexican food. Good sure, but on the whole, fairly bland compared to Mexican dishes. Just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt.
To give you an idea of the state of things in this area, Taco Bell is the main thrust of Mexican food in these parts, and another relative calls salsa (the Spanish word for sauce) “salsa sauce.” Oh, and while we’re on the subject, or more to the point off the subject, they’re called tortillas (phonetically) tor-tee-yahs, not wraps. And it’s pronounced (phonetically) hah-lah-pain-yo not hah-lah-pee-no (jalapeño).
When I was a teenager in California, my friends and I would test ourselves (yes, we were macho) with burritos from a local shop that were so hot we would have to prepare ourselves before eating by applying chapstick to our lips. Not only that but we would sweat while eating them, while seated outside in the dead of winter without wearing jackets. Granted in the area of California where this occurred winters were especially mild compared to the Northeast, still, no jacket – sweating. That wasn’t the worst of it, though. Later, when it came time to use the facilities is when we really paid.
Okay, I won’t dwell on how tough or cool I think I am/was, but to the point of this rant. I’ve returned to the Northeast and am now forced to shop in stores where their version of fresh salsa has cucumbers in it. What?!!!? Cucumbers? Yup. I’m not trying to be a snob, here, but that’s just plain gross. Don’t get me wrong, I love cucumbers (and pickles for that matter), but not in salsa. I’m sure someone somewhere thought that it was a good filler. Probably a way to save money; read that as ‘cheap.’ Usually is the case, right? Newsflash, money grubbing wh@r3s, real Mexican salsa doesn’t have cucumbers in it!
A general list of ingredients in salsa (please feel free to comment):
- Tomatoes (I prefer mine hand crushed / cut – yes, I’m being a salsa snob here)
- Onions (lots)
- Cilantro (lots)
- Jalapeño (to taste, I prefer it to bite till my nose runs)
- Garlic, Salt. Maybe some lemon or lime juice, usually keeps things from browning (oxidizing) too quickly
That’s it. No cucumbers. Got it?
I don’t mind that what you consider hot (with flames on the side to emphasize the heat) is barely warmer than ketchup, but please don’t label it authentic or Mexican. Maybe my relative is right and you should call it salsa sauce. That would be warning enough for me not to eat it.