Why I hate something you probably love: Sriracha
You can call me late for dinner, you can call me a beer snob. Hell, you can even call me “husky” (though I’d prefer you didn’t; I’m just big-boned). But goddamn if I’ll let you call me crazy when I tell you that I can’t stand Sriracha. This fiery-red fluid is the bane of my epicurean existence. No sooner have the acrid tendrils of its aroma passed my nostrils than I am transformed into Hyde, or Jekyll, or whichever one of them hated hot sauce more. For years, I’ve suffered in silence at soup dumpling stands & college cafeterias full of lunatics addicted to the savage sauce. But I can’t fake it anymore, so I admit it: Sriracha is flat-out foul. What’s up, Cockmongers? You think I’m nuts? Then find me in the comments, where I'll tell you why these reasons for my Srirach-aversion are beyond reproach:
It burns! It buuuuuuurns!If there’s one thing worse than death OR taxes, it’s the unbearable havoc that Sriracha’s heat wreaks on my body. Fooled by Mister Scoville’s tacit encouragement (this crimson fury supposedly clocks lower on the spice scale than even the pedestrian jalapeño), I’ve given it plenty of chances. My lips tremble. An unquenchable fire of a thousand Thai suns rains down on my tongue. It's around this point that my esophagus begins scream-singing the opening bars of “Rolling in the Deep”. Continue Reading
The carnage is severe, and no one’s yet warned my stomach -- or my toilet -- that Sriracha’s coming in hot.
It makes everything taste like the same bad thing“I don’t even remember what food tasted like before I discovered Sriracha.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard some self-righteous foodie or Liz Newman say that, I’d be so rich, I wouldn’t have to spend my days writing screeds about the South Pacific’s cruelest condiment. AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I would anyway, because this sinister stuff turns pizza, ice cream, and salad into the same mouth-singeing schlock. Actual “seasoning” enhances a food’s natural flavors. Sriracha just smothers everything in a consistent taste-blanket of garlic/battery acid. There’s a difference, dammit!
I can’t choke down its globby textureSpeaking of consistency, Sriracha’s is Grade-A trash. Listen: I can’t handle most hot sauces. I know that’s my culinary cross to bear. But am I the only sad soul on this rock who thinks the Red Rooster’s mouthfeel is even weirder than the word “mouthfeel”? Even grosser than the water that oozes out of an unshaken ketchup bottle, yet somehow thicker than ketchup itself?
Its baby-food viscosity (great for babies!) somehow exponentiates its acerbic bite (terrible for babies/me!), and leaves a pulpy, red residue that I can’t shake, no matter how much Listerine I swish. Listerine, you guys. It makes my grandpa’s breath smell like not-Scotch. It’s basically liquid magic. But Sriracha is darker magic, and way less liquid. And I fear-hate it.
Those sticky, crusty nozzles are my hellCome with me, kids. I want to show you something. We’re in the freshman dining hall at my college. See me? Of course not. You don’t know what I looked like back then, and also, this is an abstract literary mechanism, not an episode of Blue Mountain State. But go with it. So there’s young Dave sitting at a crowded table. It’s the first week of school. He misses his mom, and needs to start making some really cool friends so he can feel really cool too. Everyone is dousing their food with cherry-red sauce from a strange, clear bottle with Asian lettering on it. Dave’s up next.
Stranger danger! His mother’s voice screams in his brain. Shut up, Ma. He's trying to fit in. Poised to slather its mysterious contents on his stir fry and make lifelong pals, he gets an eyeful of its nightmarish nozzle. It's over. Feverish memories of its pornographically scary, snot-green snout and leprous, red-flaked skin will land him in years of therapy, where he'll rock back & forth muttering, “Should have listened to Mother”. Alright, so that’s an abstract literary mechanism too. But also, totally true.
This cornucopia of Cock collabs? No fun for The Kid.As Adam Smith once probably wrote, “Cross-category novelty food collaborations are the spice of the free market". But he was lucky enough to die before the spicy, red plague swept the global economy, leaving a vast array of Sriracha merchandise in its wake. For example, lollipops. They're the most fun, and I love them. I’m gonna pop this nice red one in my mou-- Sriracha?! By what Faustian bargain has this mutant confection come to be? INVISIBLE HAND, YOU SMITETH ME!
(Side note: Sriracha lip balm represents an oxymoronic failure of capitalism/humanity. Do something, Obama.)
Everyone thinks I’m nutsI don’t want to be this way. I wish I had a less sensitive palate, one that could support the predilection for indiscriminately spraying gobs of Sriracha on everything you consume. But instead of pity, fellow diners meet my preference with categorical disgust. “What do you mean, you don’t like it? It’s sort of an acquired taste. How many times have you tried it?” I’d wager Huy Fong himself has never tried harder at anything, good sir/madam. And yet, when I decline, they opine, and so peer pressure has periodically forced this corrosive condiment onto my sandwiches, into my soups, and -- at the behest of a particularly adamant dressing disciple -- even atop a perfectly good bowl of popcorn. Each time, lips ablaze, I bowed out in shame, as heartless Srirach-apostles indict my grip on reality. It’s like Shutter Island. Sriracha Island. Get me back to the mainland and off this hipster-infested rock.
So go ahead: Enjoy your Sriracha. But don’t foist it upon me, because I hate it. That said -- ketchup? Big fan. Slide that my way.
Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist who has severe acid reflux and deep insecurities about his myopic palate. Follow his spice-free babbling on Twitter: @dinfontay.