Friday, November 1, 2013

The search for authentic foods: Sriracha and tomatoes

Sriracha, the hot sauce condiment with the distinctive rooster bottle, is made in the U.S. with fresh chiles (unlike competitors such as Tabasco). This article goes into the background of its founder David Tran, who began concocting it in the 1980s when he missed the flavors of his native Vietnam.
His unwillingness to compromise on quality means that the chilies for Sriracha need to be processed within a day of being picked. So Huy Fong’s Rosemead factory sits only an hour away from Underwood Family Farms, which has been the company’s only chili supplier for the past 20 years. Its new plant in Irwindale is only a few miles further away. Finding new land fit for further chili harvesting has proved difficult—the land needs not only to be vast, but also fit for the purpose. “I can’t buy land that’s being used to harvest oranges,” Tran explained. “It’s not right for chilies.”
The other upshot of the high demand is that in 33 years, according to Tran, Huy Fong Foods has neither employed a single salesman nor spent a cent on advertising. Advertising would merely widen the gap between demand and supply even further. ”I don’t advertise, because I can’t advertise,” Tran explained.
Sriracha has many devotees, including moi. On the scale of Sriracha loving devised by the Oatmeal's Matthew Inman, I attained the ranking at right. See how you do on his quiz!
I applaud Mr Tran for his adherence to the authenticity of flavors. So many foods in our world are processed and diluted and traduced and destroyed. Take the divine tomato, for instance. The things done to that versatile fruit in order to get it to the supermarket are just plain ghastly. You can read all about it (and weep) in both Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato  and in Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.
If you're fortunate enough to obtain the unadulterated item, then exploit your blessings of lusciousness with Tomatoes in 60 Ways: Great Recipe Ideas with a Classic Ingredient. (Hurrah for farmer's markets and the local, organic food movement!)
Complementing one's culinary creations are the dishes one serves them on, and oh do we have the pertinent book in that regard! It's Dish: 813 Colorful, Wonderful Dinner Plates, and below are a few samples of its riches. I actually own the set from which the turkey plate below comes, if you can believe it! (A family friend gave it to me.) It's Johnson Brothers' "Windsorware Native American" (a.k.a. the Standing Turkey Pattern) and was manufactured from early 1950's through the early 1970's.


  1. Fortunately, we all get to continue to enjoy our sriracha considering that the company was being sued just a few days

  2. I admit it I feel odd commenting about dinnerware, but the 1950s looking dinnerware sets in your post are GREAT!!!! Especially the black plate and the starry plates. Thanks! :-D

  3. Is American Limoges in the book? I've got their China Bouquet, also discontinued.