Point/Counterpoint: Is Tabasco the ideal hot sauce?

Illustration for article titled Point/Counterpoint: Is Tabasco the ideal hot sauce?
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Hot sauce an invaluable condiment for peppering up food that needs a splash of acid or heat, whether it’s soup, dip, or fried chicken. Hot sauce is also a good option if whatever you’re eating is boring or terrible. The culinary world features an entire rainbow of hot sauce, but one of the most divisive is Tabasco. It seems like either you’re a fan, or you hate it. No room for ambivalence here. So, what do you think? Are you a hater or a lover of Tabasco hot sauce? We present both arguments below.

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Tabasco is good

For a while, I decided I was not a fan of Tabasco sauce. It was mostly because everyone around me said how much they hated it, so I went with the flow. Peer pressure is real. But recently I got to thinking about how much I missed going to a diner for things like a late breakfast. When I go to a diner, I’m not really a pancake or waffle person, I’m more of an egg breakfast person. Omelets, eggs Benedict, skillets, you name it—I prefer that kind of stuff. And it all gets me reminiscing about things like those possibly ancient stacks of single-serve jellies and hot sauce caddies on the table.

While I like Cholula, which is usually in those caddies, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I almost always reach for Tabasco sauce. I really like some form of acid in my food, otherwise it feels kind of plain to me. And that’s why I like Tabasco. The acid thing seems to be the main complaint (that and the fact that it’s kinda watery). But I like it, and unlike some people, I do think Tabasco has a decent kick to it. I consider myself someone with an above average tolerance to spice, too. So you know what? Goddammit, Tabasco is good. I feel like there’s a huge burden lifted off my shoulders now. —Dennis Lee, staff writer


Tabasco is too much and not enough

I want to make it clear that I’m not saying Tabasco is bad. It’s just that it has never, ever been what I personally need out of a condiment. To Dennis’ point, acidity is an important component of any dish, and I love any hot sauce that brings plenty of it to an otherwise bland dish, like a plate of eggs. But Tabasco is pure acidity, offering little in the way of additional smoky pepper flavor under the heat. The thinness of Tabasco makes me feel like I’m just giving my food a spicy lacquer, rather than complementing it with a blend of peppers and spices. Indeed, the only ingredients in Tabasco are aged red peppers, salt, and distilled vinegar, while something like Cholula includes more notes like garlic powder and is thickened with xanthan gum to make it pour more like a sauce and less like water. So while I appreciate how straightforward Tabasco is in its mission to make foods hotter, it’s a little too flat and a little too loud for me. But it feels spiritually at home on diner tables right next to the salt, which performs the same loud, flat service as Tabasco for any bland entree. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

Tobasco sauce is an ingredient. It makes food better by going in it, not on it. Franks and Cholula are condiments. They make food better by going on it.