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2013: The year of the disappearing Rooster

November 3, 2013
By WES BURNS - Copy Editor (wburns@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

I have a long and storied love for sandwiches of all types. I don't discriminate when it comes to the greatest meal between two slices; how could anyone narrow their appreciation of a food item that ranges from the simple PB&J to the ostentatious duck confit grilled cheese?

Both delicious. But don't bother packing your kid a duck confit grilled cheese for school; that thing's going to be traded for a Big Grab before recess.

Since I can't eat all types of sandwiches at once, I'm sorry to say, I tend to go in waves. I'll spend a few months eating nothing but varying poultry sandwiches with spicy mustard, then progress into a brisket phase, only to find myself exploring grilled/fried experiments until the weather once again turns warm.

As of late, my favorite sandwich condiment (the third most important part of a sandwich, behind bread) has been the unexpectedly popular sriracha, or Rooster sauce.

My first experience with rooster sauce was in college. Since freshmen year of college is, and should be, about living in abject poverty, my friends and I were always looking for cheap/free food. And since the blood donation people frown upon eating their entire supply of Nutter Butters as some kind of evening meal, our options were growing limited.

So we just started stealing sriracha.

Now, I do not condone the actions taken by Collegiate Wes, but that guy did all sorts of stuff I wouldn't think of doing as an fine, upstanding member of the columnist community.

Every pan-Asian restaurant had GIANT bottles of it, at every table, dwarfing the other paltry condiments with it's proud nature and bold flavor. And it lasted forever! One two-liter bottle of sriracha could spice up a year's worth of Ramen, plain bread, pizza crust, or whatever food-like item you were eating because you spent all your money on cigarettes.

But I'm an adult now, with a checking account and everything. Just look at my picture up there, do you think THAT unconventionally good looking guy is stealing condiments? No sir! I can afford to pay for all of my sauces, thank you very much.

But it looks like my money won't get me any closer to my beloved rooster sauce, since the 650,000 foot factory in Irwindale, Calif. responsible for making sriracha is facing a massive lawsuit seeking to shut the plant down.

Apparently when you grind 100 million pounds of chili peppers between August and October it creates a bit of a smell. And according to the lawsuit this potent mix ground chili and garlic is being sprayed directly in the face of their towns infants, every second of every day.

Now, because of some overly litigious town's spurious claim that they don't want to live downwind from a giant can of pepper spray, we all may face a shortage of delicious rooster sauce.

Don't worry, loyal reader(s), I've been deep in the sandwich trenches for years now, and I can guide you in these uncertain times.

Some of you may be inclined to make your own sriracha. Unless you are an experienced chef with cooking skills on the "square plate" level of dining I have to advise against this. I'm pretty sure if you wrongly mix the ingredients for sriracha you're going to get phosphine gas ... or blue meth. Either way it is going to taste terrible on a sandwich.

So what does that leave you with? Other sauces. I know, I?know, we would all love to keep our beloved sriracha flowing indefinitely but sauces come and go. I'm sure after Irwindale is outfitted with one of those town-covering domes we'll have all the sriracha we need; until then let me help navigate you down the often bewildering road of sandwich sauces.

Mustard: You really think you're going to go from sriracha to some yellow mustard? If it isn't coarse ground or brown leave it on the table.

Buffalo sauce: Some people call this tangy red sauce the American sriracha. Those people are wrong. Leave this overly sweet stuff to the tasteless denizens of Buffalo Wild Wings and move on.

Fry sauce: Are you in Utah? Are you playing golf? If the answer to either of these questions is "no" then you shouldn't be eating this alleged "sauce" consisting of the groundbreaking formula of ketchup and mayo.

Ranch: This stuff doesn't even count as a sauce anymore. Since ranch's total market saturation starting sometime around the legalization of medical marijuana, this pasty white omni-sauce is now found on pizza, sandwiches, salads, ice cream and a bevy of otherwise inedible products. Best to leave this stuff alone.

Guacamole: It sounds like it would be good on a sandwich. It isn't. Soaks right through the bread. You know what is doesn't soak through? Tortilla chips.

Horseradish: Now we're talking. This sinus clearing blast of old-world flavor may be too bold for some, but if you want something with a kick comparable to sriracha but tastes completely different, this is your sauce.

Tartar sauce: Frankly, I think this stuff is underrated. I?like it on sandwiches, but there has to be some kind of rich meat. Also surprisingly good on fried chicken.

Exotic mayos: Also known as aiolies these basically use mayo as a foundation for other flavors. Yes, rosemary aioli is delicious on french fries; but if you're looking for something spicy the mayo is always going to dull the kick.

Cranberry sauce: Yes! I have been talking this stuff up for years! Get some cranberry sauce, roasted turkey, spinach, cream cheese, put it on a hard roll and you've got all the joys of Thanksgiving in the palm of your hand, without all the hassle of dealing with your extended family. Also good on non-Thanksgiving related sandwiches.

Ketchup: Go to bed, grown ups are talking.

Hopefully that should keep your sandwiches interesting while we all wait for this national crisis to pass. And if the sriracha nevers flows again we can and will learn to love other sandwich sauces ... in due time.

Not me though, I'm pretty sure I still have some sriracha leftover from the bottle I got in college.

 
 

 

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