Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango!

While we are finally in the midst of March Madness, other national championships are being settled as well. From Slate.com, The Tangy 12.
I blame March Madness for a range of unusual behavior that I exhibit this time of year, from sudden mood swings to an irrational obsession with RPI. I also become a salsa fiend, and like many NCAA enthusiasts, most salsa I consume comes straight from a jar. Who has time to chop up a pile of vegetables when one must focus with laserlike intensity on rooting for a North Carolina championship?

The problem, of course, is mass-produced salsa's astounding lack of flavor, due largely to the abuse that vegetables endure to get from field to jar. The tomatoes, for example, are washed, blasted with hot steam, sliced, diced, reheated, and cooled. They're then mixed with dehydrated onions, flash-frozen jalapeƱo peppers, and other similarly maltreated vegetables. That mixture is heated, jarred, steamed, sealed, and finally, cooled. While homemade salsa marries the pure flavors of ingredients like peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, and lime, mass-produced salsa is uniform, generic, and bland.