The Boston Phoenix -
WHAT’S A SCOVILLE, you ask? By the time flames are dancing off your tongue and you’re on your knees waiting for a merciful death, you’ll know: it’s a measure of the heat in a pepper. And many people take sick pleasure in pushing their Scoville capacity to unbearable limits. They crave a hot-sauce fix the way kids crave candy — and just like kids, heat freaks can’t pass up a dare. If tired old Tabasco isn’t lighting your fire, it’s time to try the local beauties. Some sting right away, where others are sneaky and slow-building; some come in bottles with snazzy labels, and others come fresh from restaurant kitchens. But they have one thing in common: they don’t tickle.
At the East Coast Grill’s famous "Hell Nights," freaks burn for the deadly delicious offerings. Take home a bottle of chef/owner Chris Schlesinger’s delectable and appallingly hot concoction, Inner Beauty "Real Hot" Sauce ($3.95), made with Scotch bonnet peppers, mustard, pineapple juice, papaya purée, cider vinegar, orange juice, molasses, honey, and brown sugar.
El Pelón named its Señor John Delisle Hot Sauce ($6 a pint) after the brave (or just insane) Phoenix employee who recently won its chili-pepper-eating contest. The hot-as-hell Scotch-bonnet-pepper sauce features a bold citrusy flavor drawn from limes. Or try the slow-burning, subtler Arbol Chili Hot Sauce ($6 a pint), with nuances of roasted sesame and pumpkin seed. And Redbones Barbecue ladles out the rich, dark good stuff ($4 a pint) to those who aren’t sweating enough from their heaping plates of the pulled pig.
Sauce lovers should also keep handy a jar of B.B. Wolf’s Blow Your House Down Hot Sauce ($4.95). B.B.’s adds a dash of the spicy Southwestern potion to its special Bloody Marys, in case a morning hangover isn’t painful enough. The eatery sells a variety of other hot sauces whose hilarious labels promise incineration: the Endorphin Rush ($4.95), with a hint of soy sauce and molasses, boasts an explosion of flavor, then a wave of heat; the Butt Twister ($5.95) "butt-Blazin’ fire sauce" makes a perfect gag gift; and the New England Patriots’ Hot Sauce ($7.95) doesn’t do much, but looks pretty.
Speaking of cocky labels, Ashley Foods’ 357 Mad Dog Hot Sauce ($10) comes with a five-step warning, asking the buyer to affirm that "I am not inebriated or otherwise not of a sound mind, and I am fully able to make a sound decision about the purchase of this product." Sound mind? If you’re a glutton for hot-sauce punishment, you passed that point long, long ago.
• Ashley Food Company, P.O. Box 506, Dedham, (800) 61-SAUCE; http://www.ashleyfood.com/
© 2002 Phoenix Media Communications Group