The Rules of Thumb for Mexican Salsa

¿Son picosas?” I asked, pointing to three bowls of salsa at a street-side taquería near Torre Mural. One was a big bowl of proper guacamole, with large chucks of avocado and a green, velvety texture; the second, also green and full of onions and cilantro and other herbs; and the third, a standard smoked & roasted pepper condiment that could be more aptly described as taco-sauce than salsa. “Las verdes más que la roja, que no es picosa” the woman said, informing me that the two green salsas were hotter than the mild red. But I couldn’t stay my curiosity; the red is common, almost pedantic, but these two green ones looked different… forbidden… enticing. I had to try them…. Well. It’s almost an hour later, and the fire in my mouth is still raging.

Salsas are a ubiquitous part of daily cuisine in Mexico City and a specialty of many taquerías. Although the colors are often standard, red, yellow, and green, the varieties are nearly endless. Perhaps later, I’ll have tried enough to accurately categorize them; however, in the mean time, it seems prudent that I place a reminder here for myself about how not to obliterate my sense of taste. It’s not that every salsa is spicy, but, on occasion, those harmless looking bowls of uber-sabor can belie a monster.

The Rules of Thumb for Mexican Salsa

  1. Unlike back home, green and yellow salsas are much hotter than red
  2. The more interesting it looks, the hotter it’s likely to be
  3. Cooks, waiters, and customers will gladly give you their honest opinion…
  4. …but are likely to underrate a salsa’s bite
  5. Salsas with big chunks of pepper aren’t always hot; those without aren’t always mild
  6. Salsas off the street tend to be more interesting, and seem to be much hotter, than those at restaurants

Thus, it’s a good idea to always ask, always expert something hotter than described, and if it’s green and looks really interesting, have a fire extinguisher ready.


México, D.F.


3 Responses

  1. […] the original post:  The Rules of Thumb for Mexican Salsa « Mike’s Notes | Nueve Meses … Share and […]

  2. I’ve noticed several “blogging” websites that simply repost parts of other people’s sites. They must have a crawler that searches for content and then reposts it. More content = more web traffic + a higher rating from google. In one sense, it’s stealing content, and in another it’s a content aggregator, which is valuable to people searching for general info.

    However, as the pingback above from the site about salsa, the dance, shows, it’s often done poorly. If they’re too lazy to filter their own content, then, well, I can’t imagine they’ll have success in the long term.

  3. […] The World Bank, climate change, and Mexico Posted on March 10, 2009 by mikesnotes The World Bank’s presence in México is through the auspices of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or IBRD.  The IBRD is one of the five sub-institutions that comprise World Bank and has offices south of the city center on Insurgentes Sur.  (It’s near the changarro with the atomic salsa). […]

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