Last summer I was walking through our local produce goods store/cheese counter/grocery store/greenhouse (It's not a chain -- a local place called Horrocks in Lansing -- take the Saginaw Highway Exit towards Lansing and it's right there. Great store!) and saw they had all sorts of Michigan Hot Peppers for sale -- Banana Peppers, Tomatillos, Jalapeno, Habanero, Red Mild & Chili Peppers as well as Green, Red, and Yellow Bell Peppers. Since fresh tomatoes were in abundance, along with several types of Onions and Carrots, I decided to make a nice big batch of fresh Salsa.
What I wasn't counting on is the fact that certain peppers, when mixed with certain other ingredients I put together, intensifies the heat. Instead of one Habanero, I put in three. Same with the others. I figured it would be great -- heavy on different types of peppers (please note, this was my first time experimenting with my Mother-in-Law's Salsa Recipe. By the end of the summer, I had it down pretty well.)
End result? It tasted great!
For all of about half a second. That is when your tongue would either blister or just plain spontaneously combust. I swear it took half a gallon of milk to start calming it down -- I tried chewing on ice and it just made it worse (like an idiot, I had taken a great big chip and stuffed the whole thing in at once. Note to self: Taste test Salsa in small quantities. Also, in further research water spreads the hot juices around rather than neutralizing them.) I ended up swishing milk in my mouth slowly, just kinda holding it there until it no longer felt cool and the burn returned, and then repeated. I was able to salvage the batch of Salsa by putting in an extra 5 batches worth of tomatoes. Lots of great Salsa, lots of lessons learned.
Regular readers of this blog will remember how, as the season progressed, I compared putting together a football team to cooking. You don't just need to know what you want as the end result (Salsa) but how each ingredient you have available can be put together in the right quantities, in the right order, to get the end result you are looking for. It is not a science, but rather, a process dictated by sight, sense, and some higher knowledge that can only be called intuition at best, wild guesses at worst.
In football, the human elements and injuries add all sorts of wrinkles cooks never have to deal with. When is the last time my Habanero had a knee injury that kept him out of the mix? That my Bell Pepper stole the Banana Pepper's luggage and had to be booted out of the kitchen? That my Tamatillo got in trouble at the night club and ended up in Jail? That my Yellow Onions demanded a new contract or they were going to leave for my neighbor's salsa because the recipe I'm using doesn't accentuate their flavor enough? That I had to go with less tomatoes as a base because I couldn't fit them into the bowl, and the kitchen dictated that I had no more bowl space because I used it up on that exotic purple onion? That my Jalapenos lacked work ethic after they were added in and just didn't have that spice I expected? (Okay, that has happened, but it taught me not to shop around for old discount peppers past their prime.)
I'm sure you all are catching the point here. It's not that I don't like peppers, but you need the right kinds in the types and quantities you need to make your Salsa come out great. Right now, I just don't think the Lions' Salsa needs Julius Peppers.