When most people go on vacation they hunt for postcards, key chains, shot glasses or other small trinkets to bring home as mementos of where they have been. While those things are nice, I have never been one to much care for spending money on postcards and key chains. I usually like the photos that I take better than the postcards and the fact that the photos are digital means that I can edit and publish them instead of having to hang on to a piece of card stock. I’m not a key chain person. Just give me the keys necessary to get through the day and I’m fine. Shot glasses and other small trinkets can be fun, especially if they’re a bit funky and fun. So, what do I hunt for when on vacations or look forward to when family or friends head away to foreign lands? Hot sauces, spices and oils.
Growing up with a Jamaican step-father I have a deep passion for spicy foods. When I was young I wasn’t allowed to get up from the table until my plate was cleared no matter how spicy it was. As I grew up I became intrigued by the different layers that hot sauces, curries, jerk seasonings and peppers presented to my palette. Some immediately sent excruciating stinging pain through my lips and the tip of my tongue while others had a deep smoky spice accompanied by a light burn minutes after eating and in the deep regions of my throat. I began experimenting and researching different types of sauces, spices and peppers with the goal of educating myself on all things spicy. No, this is not to say that everything must be over-sauced in mouth-scorching hot sauce or so much spice that you need an ice-scraper to get it off. I appreciate properly seasoned and sauced foods and have grown my range to not be so simple as to think that Red Hot is the only sauce available.
Once I began to travel more for business trips and vacations, especially to the Carribean islands, I started to seek out collecting different hot sauces, seasonings and oils from around the world. Now when family or friends travel they know what will put a big smile on my face when they come back. I’ve had jerk sauces and seasonings that I bought from women who were cooking it in their kitchens and then selling their concoctions in the open markets the next day and have tried spicy oils where a drop into a vat of chili turns it spicy throughout, among many other experiences. What always amazes me is the variety of combinations and different flavor layers that are created by using, in general, the same ingredients. It’s simply incredible.
Being fellow foodies, I wonder if, when you travel, do you hunt for unique spices, oils or sauces to bring home with you, even if they’re not spicy?
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Photo Credit: ASurroca