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cholula, you ain’t no tabasco

Naomi Campbell once threw a phone at her assistant. But she can’t be all bad. After all, she once revealed in an interview that she carries Tabasco in her purse. Assuming she’s not carrying the Tabasco around to splash in her assistant’s eyes, that single fact makes Naomi Campbell bulletproof in my book. Because as far as I’m concerned, Tabasco is the stuff of life.

Unfortunately, around Portland, it’s getting harder and harder to find Tabasco in restaurants. I noticed it happening about a year ago. And now it happens all the time. My friend Patrick says it’s because Cholula reps are always hawking their wares to restaurateurs. Whatever the cause, it’s a real problem. Once, if you asked “Do you have Tabasco,” the response you’d get was “Green or Red?” Nowadays, if you ask “Do you have any Tabasco?” you’re likely to hear “No. [Insert sad hipster waiter face]. But I have Cholula!”


chili lime cholula sounds absolutely disgusting

Who wants your stinking Cholula??  Cholula is fine if you’re putting it on an enchilada or Huevos Rancheros. That’s because if you sprinkle Cholula on something, your food automatically turns into Mexican food. So if you’re trying to go in that direction, it helps to start with Mexican food. Cholula gives off a dull, smoky vibe that falls somewhere between the “Hot” and “Fire” sauces at Taco Bell. I’m not knocking that. There’s definitely a place for Fire sauce, I mean, Cholula, and that place is on a 99 cent bean and cheese burrito.

But you for damn sure can’t put Cholula on a bed of tender, soft-cooked eggs, or sprinkle it in little dots all the way down a slice of crisp bacon. You can’t put Cholula on the crunchy top layer of homemade macaroni and cheese. You can’t put Cholula on pizza, unless it’s taco pizza. Admittedly, that last one is a guess, because I’d never order a taco pizza. That shit is gross.

No, sometimes, Cholula just won’t do. Sometimes, the only thing that will do is that blast of acidic, vinegary heat. That fiery hit of Tabasco.

I told my friend Ethan I was writing this post, and he immediately started in on an irrelevant diatribe against Chipotle guacamole, Hunt’s ketchup, and tomatillo salsas. Which just goes to show that we all have our least favorite condiments. I can’t take Ethan seriously because he hates Tabasco. When I complained that Cholula makes everything taste like Mexican food, Ethan opined that “Mexican food is better than Tabasco food,” which just makes me feel sorry for him.

Anyway, I’m not saying restaurants should ONLY offer Tabasco. I just want them to keep Tabasco in the mix. In case you’re wondering, Tabasco is not paying me to write this post. No, this love is for free.

Until the restaurants awake from their cloudy Cholula haze, I’ll just have to carry my own hot sauce. Which is why, this Christmas, I’m asking for this.

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. Donovan #

    You have it wrong, everything you put Tabasco on ends up tasting only like Tabasco. That is why Cholula is soooo much better. It adds FLAVOR not just heat and it doesn’t cover up what your adding it to.

    June 11, 2014
  2. They have many large bottles of all three kinds of Tabasco at Chipotle, and I’ve never noticed anyone guarding them very closely. Tapatio is where it’s at though. It’s Tabasco before they water it down. Also, Trappey’s Louisana Pepper Sauce is way better on eggs than your wimpy Tabasco.

    November 15, 2013
  3. I found packets of Tabasco at Panera Bread…just wanted you to know it’s not a lost cause….

    November 9, 2013
  4. lawmrh #

    Give me Siracha although Tabasco is good in clam chowder. In Bandon last year, I discovered “Slap Ya Mama” at a tiny fresh fish restaurant. Loved it and bought several. Good flavor, a bit of bite and not so much vinegar as Tabasco.

    Fun post!
    – Mo

    October 27, 2013
  5. Yoona, I’m too lazy to dig up the correct post(s) for these comments. But please see it as a compliment: I read your writing and some of it just sticks with me in a weird, she’s-a-friend-I-haven’t-met way.
    1. I, too, hate Gwyneth. I even subscribe to goop solely for the purpose of finding more of her nonsense that I may mercilessly judge.
    2. Have you noticed that someone finally made Bill Belichick a jacket with three-quarter length sleeves so that he could stop cutting up the sweatshirts and looking like a hobo?
    3. Your post about hiding out in the car is one of my all-time faves.
    4. Your post about hiding your shopping problem made me so happy: I, too, have experienced the deep self-worth questioning that arises from spending a year looking for boots. I ended up with some tall Fryes and now feel that my life is complete.
    I myself happen to be a casual blogger in your not-as-hip-sister-city-to-the-north, Seattle, but we lived on NE 16th and Sandy for three years after getting married. Reading your blog is a treat.

    October 25, 2013
    • there is so much to be delighted by in your comment. I totally did not know that about bill belichick and now have a second reason to watch the pats games, the first being Tom Brady in tight pants. Second, you have taken the Fox News approach with goop and I commend your sacrifice. Tom watches Fox News to spy on the other side and I dig that kind of commitment, even though I don’t have the stomach for it. Third, sandy and 16th is less than two miles from my house. Eastside! Thanks for reading, Julie!

      October 25, 2013
  6. gulgun #

    Shout out to your subtitles. “Let go or be dragged.” Love it! Also loved the last one on expectations and happiness.

    October 25, 2013
    • Yay!!! Someone noticed them! Gulgun you make me happy

      October 25, 2013
  7. farah #

    Reading this while eating my scrambled eggs and thought, hmm, maybe these need some Tabasco, which, thank goodness we had in the fridge. However, I’m surprised that you are not required by the blogosphere to rave about Sriracha, or is that just a Bay Area requirement?

    October 24, 2013
    • hey farah. no, i would imagine portland’s love for sriracha is as intense as the bay area’s. my brother loves the cock sauce and can’t get it in seoul, which i understand works a huge difficulty in his life. tabasco + eggs = magic

      October 24, 2013
  8. Ryan #

    Agreed, although I am a fan of Tapatio. It’s the halfway point between Tobasco and Cholula (if not a little on the Cholula side). Each has its place, but for that kick, you have to have Tobascao. And let’s be honest, ain’t nobody in their right mind putting Cholula in a Bloody Mary if they have the option of Tabasco.

    October 23, 2013
    • do you realize that you spelled tabasco three different ways in that paragraph? i am captivated

      October 23, 2013
      • Ryan #

        you’ve still got that law review talent.

        October 23, 2013
    • i’m having trouble remembering how tapatio is different from cholula. it’s redder, and cholula is oranger, but otherwise…bupkus

      October 23, 2013
  9. aorecord #

    I’m surprise the restaurant didn’t jump onto the Sriracha band wagon.

    October 23, 2013
    • yes many restaurants here have sriracha. i never ask for it unless i’m eating pho, so it’s not really on my radar

      October 23, 2013
  10. Dr Tooba #

    I agree with you Yoona, Cholula is ok with some foods but I need the heat and vinegary goodness of Tabasco. By the way Breakside Brewing is in Dekum neighborhood in NE Portland, 820 NE Dekum St.

    October 23, 2013
    • this breakside brewing is now at the top of my list of places to visit, thank you

      October 23, 2013
      • You and Tom could probably split the regular size buffalo chicken nachos, don’t waste your time on the large or imperial. Unless you’re there with 4 people. The fried pickles are delicious, and served with 2! dipping sauces. Make sure you ask for all 3 Tabascos, which they’ll probably just bring you the Tabasco condiment apparatus.

        October 25, 2013
      • thanks for this guide, man

        October 25, 2013
  11. There is a time and a place for Tobasco. The time is always and the place is eggs. However, I do not consume hot sauce often, but when I do, I prefer Valentina. Dunno if it is in Stumptown, but since I’ve been in DC, I find it at my local Mexican Market. The original is awesome on everything.

    October 23, 2013
  12. Oh Yoona- you may lose some friends over this post. People are extremely passionate about their hot sauces. I used to call myself “The Condiment King”, but with all the new sauces abound, I’ve lost that foothold. I myself, prefer Secret Aardvark to all hot sauces, but I have a complex method that sometimes I use Cholula and other times only Tabasco will do. Take Breakside Brewery’s Buffalo Chicken Nachos for example. They are DELICIOUS on their own with the white sauce they drizzle over the big chunks of blue cheese, carrots, celery and chicken that is drenched in Frank’s. But adding a few drops of the green Tabasco to it, takes it to another level. When they introduced the Chipolte Tabasco to their lineup, it got even better, which I didn’t think was possible. That is where you’ll find me on most Sundays around 3, in food and condiment heaven, at Breakside.

    October 23, 2013
    • What the hell is break side brewery and how fast can I get there. I hope no one stops reading because I don’t like cholula. But if that happened it would give me one more reason not to like cholula. Ethan btw is a huge fan of secret aardvark sauce and was mad I didn’t mention it, so thanks for that

      October 23, 2013
  13. Courtney #

    We have probably 20 bottles of hot sauces in our fridge because if it will hold still, I’d like to put hot sauce on it. Some have skulls and crossbones and say “warning” and are a little much. I don’t think one is better or worse–just different flavors best suited for different things and different tolerances. If you haven’t tried the hot sauces from NW Elixirs, you are missing out on the best thing on earth. They have a green (basically Mexican) flavor, an Asian one, and then a standard “hot” (that is more flavorful than Tabasco I think) and then a BBQ sort of deal that is good on Tex-Mexy things. I’ve just about forsaken all my other hot sauces for these. And they’re local. You should check them out. They won some massive competition in NY I read in Food Day. Tabasco is a little too vinegar-based for me but it’s fine if I don’t have other options. Please review a hot sauce every week and you’ll keep me reading with rapt attention.

    October 23, 2013
    • Your knowledge of hot sauce makes me appreciate you more than I already do. What with the MMA and all, you are revealing yourself to have more layers than a spanakopita pie. And yes I will check out the elixir hot sauces

      October 23, 2013
  14. Sorry to hear Tabasco is being run out of town up there. Good luck with your future seasoning!

    October 23, 2013
  15. This post is in the running for my favorite one yet. I adore Tabasco, and now that I’m living in Southern California, I find Cholula everywhere and Tabasco nowhere. Last year, my sister gave me a Costco-size pack of tiny Tabasco bottles so I could carry a few in my purse, just like Naomi! I basically agree with every assessment in this post. (Also, clam chowder in Lincoln City, OR can only be consumed with Tabasco. It’s sacrilegious to use Cholula)

    October 23, 2013
    • Omg Ashley–clam chowder, how could I forget!!! Yes it’s so good on clam chowder

      October 23, 2013
    • Also shrimp and grits

      October 23, 2013
  16. bbanss #

    Word. Btw, Hunt’s is way superior to Heinz.

    October 23, 2013
    • I have never, ever heard anyone else echo that sentiment about hunts. It explains why they continue to make it, however

      October 23, 2013
    • in college, ed used to say he would get rich by bottling ketchup with tabasco in it. after we broke up i saw that someone actually did that, and thought of him fondly

      October 23, 2013
  17. No, no, no. Tabasco is no bueno. Cholula is meh (although the Chipotle Cholula is delightful). Red Hot, however, is the king of hot sauce.

    October 23, 2013
    • Ethan also likes frank’s red hot. I thought that was buffalo sauce and haven’t tried it as a condiment

      October 23, 2013
  18. Sooo damn true!!! I actually think it’s more like TBell’s mild/medium. Which is basically ketchup. Bummed Costco doesn’t have Tabasco – ended up getting two mega bottles of Cholula and kids hated it. We like to put Tabasco on popcorn – splash some in the microwave bag and shake it around. Tried it with Cholula and it was way too thick.

    October 23, 2013
    • Man I’ll take your word for it because I haven’t ever tried Taco Bell mild or medium. I mean the fire is so unspicy that it’s hard to imagine how bad the mild and medium are. Good tip about the popcorn.

      October 23, 2013
  19. I’m guessing this might fall into that “two kinds of people in the world” preferences category. Mayo vs. Miracle Whip, Pepsi vs. Coke, paper vs. plastic, whichever camp you inhabit for any given dichotomy will be populated with similarly fierce loyalists. Do I choose where to eat in any given airport based upon which cola they offer? Damn right I do.

    After a trip to Costa Rica I can’t get enough Lizano hot sauce, but it is only a passing crush and once the bottle I brought back runs out I’ll be heading right back to Tabascoland. (You put those adorably teeny tabasco bottles that come with some foofy packaged soup mixes on your Christmas tree too, right???).

    October 23, 2013
    • Love those mini bottles. And tell me you’re a diet coke girl because otherwise I am confused

      October 23, 2013
      • No need to be confused on my account. Diet Coke it is (and has been and always will be forever and ever, shut up.)

        October 23, 2013
  20. Janis Gabriel #

    : BWahahaha!!! I agree even though I have never had Cholula! And that Tabasco gear is awesome, where they find that at? LOL

    October 23, 2013
    • oh there are lots of Tabasco holster options. But this denim number, when worn with jeans of a different wash, will be very on trend

      October 23, 2013
      • Heidi #

        If you HAD jeans in that wash, I would be the very confused one! I think that type of denim is reserved for “dad jeans”. Can’t wait to see your fashion post featuring the holster!

        October 23, 2013
      • Yes you’re right. It’s awfully cute in a holster, however

        October 23, 2013

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