Page Two

Page Two
The annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Contest happens this Sunday, August 24, from noon to 5pm at Waterloo Park (12th & Red River). Don Walser's Pure Texas Band and Los Pinkys will perform, and there will be hundreds of sauces available for tasting for free, with additional food and beverage for sale. Although restaurants and commercial bottlers will be well-represented, most of the hot sauces available will be from home kitchens and individual hot sauce innovators. Admission is free.

Growing up, I had never liked hot foods. When I first came to Austin, I was still nervous about Mexican food, expecting to find it too spicy. A few years after a steady diet of Mexican food, things changed. Returning to my parent's home, on excursions out to eat with others, I would assure them that some dish or another wasn't very spicy. The look of betrayal in their eyes when they bit in was always a surprise. I had become acclimated to "hot," though I never really graduated to the kind of taste buds possessed by people like Robb Walsh and Anne S. Lewis, my wife, who will, with a dish that has set my eyes to tearing and forehead to sweating, sweetly look up at the wait person and ask if they have any really spicy sauces. In Texas, spicy food is a way of life.

Seven years ago when Robb Walsh first suggested holding a hot sauce contest, I figured we would receive about 15-20 sauces and maybe a couple of hundred people would attend. The first year, dozens and dozens of sauces were entered and thousands attended. This is truly a people's event, one that has outgrown our planning and expectations. This year, we expect in the neighborhood of 300 hot sauces, most of them homemade by local hot food mavens (although people have come from all over the state and shipped their hot sauces from all over the country).

Last year, it rained during the festivities and thousands came anyway. Later that day, it poured. Soaking wet chips and hot sauce in bowls diluted with rain water is not a pretty sight. Still, people stayed and sampled sauces.

This year we are hoping for better weather and even more hot sauces. The event is free, the hot sauces are free, the music is free, and everyone is invited to celebrate life with a little spice.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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