A Brief History
Salsa: it’s one of the most popular condiments used in the United States, outselling even ketchup and mustard. This well-enjoyed sauce is now making its way into tens of thousands of American homes and its popularity is likely to grow in the not-so-distant-future. But what are the origins of this beloved condiment? One need only look back into antiquity in order to discover its Mesoamerican origins. Historians have speculated that it was the Incans who first created salsa and their recipe spread to other Mesoamerican cultures. The recipes between the three people did not vary greatly, nearly each of them containing some form of nightshade fruit as well as a spicy element.
Today, most people are able to get the ingredients for a salsa at their local supermarkets, but it wasn’t quite so convenient for the indigenous Latin American people. Some of the ingredients used by the Aztecs in their variation of the sauce includes tomato, chile, squash, as well as beans. This combination of ingredients would not be christened as “salsa” until 1571 by the Spanish friar Alonso de Molina. It should be noted that the Spaniards ( as well as all other European nations) were not introduced to the nightshade tomatoes until the mid-sixteenth century.
Paw’s Really Bad Morning
Salsa can be found in almost every corner store in San Antonio, Texas. I cannot speak for any other city, but I know that I always enjoy picking up a jar of mild Pace Picante sauce. You see, to see salsa isn’t just another condiment. One of my fondest memories of the sauce was when I went over to my cousin’s house one weekend and the entire family was there for his son’s birthday party. Now, the morning after everyone had spent the dancing the night away, my tía Chela made salsa rojo to go with the eggs and barbacoa. My PawPaw (grandfather) took what was clearly a ketchup bottle and poured it all over his eggs. Given that he was still waking up, he hadn’t realized that it was indeed ketchup that he had poured onto his eggs. Meanwhile, my cousin and I poured as much salsa as we possibly could onto our eggs, competing with one another to see who could consume the most without taking a sip of water. Suddenly, we heard my PawPaw crying out that the “salsa” was too spicy for him and that it tasted strange. My cousin and I found ourselves laughing so hard that we were hardly able to breathe! When I informed my PawPaw that he was, in fact, eating ketchup and not salsa he began to laugh. Later that day when we were cooking hamburgers on the grill, we all ridiculed my grandfather and said that we couldn’t handle the mild spiciness from the ketchup. I suppose that’s why I couldn’t help but talk about salsa for this blog post.
The More You Know
Fun Fact: Today there is a tomato festival called La Tomatina held in Buñol, Spain held every August in which the townspeople throw tomatoes at one another. This festival’s origin is still unknown, but there have been numerous theories speculating their origin. One of the most amusing ones, in my opinion, is the story where a musician was supposedly so terrible that people began to throw tomatoes in the street in order to quiet that very musician. If you don’t believe me then I’d like you to check out the video below to see for yourself! Just in case you want to impress your friends, you can tell them that some people are quite passionate about one of the primary ingrdients used in salsa!
I feel as though I ought to begin by quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald, “in my younger and more vulnerable years,” and so on and so forth.