Even in Wisconsin, we like it hot!
28 February 2019
“We didn't think people from Wisconsin liked spicy food.” Lisa and I laughed. We spotted “Montana” on the transom of Allora as we anchored in Opunohu Bay, Moorea. We dinghied over and invited Marcus and Diana for cocktails on Uproar. They brought a delicious appetizer with the above disclosure. We have enjoyed numerous BBQs and sundowners with Marcus and Diana and realize we all like it hot!
Months later we arrived in Gambiers. The little town of Rikitea has a few small stores. One store summoned their English expert when our French failed us, asking to buy a “sparky” stove lighter. James appeared with his perfect American English and we were able to buy a lighter ($16!). We had a nice conversation with James who runs a one-room hardware store. James explained that he had gone to high school and college in the US, and Arizona.
James studied and trained to be an airline pilot. Months before he became certified, he had a mild seizure from a previous football injury. He switched to business school and now works at his family store and his mom's pearl farm. He seemed resigned to life in the remote Gambiers.
Lisa asked him what he missed most about the US. He sighed and said, “Mexican food.” Polynesians don't like spicy food either, Diana. The next day we brought James a small bottle of Uproar hot sauce. Two days later we saw James again. He and his stepfather finished the hot sauce. He loved it. We told James if he provided us with hot peppers, we would make him some more sauce. We saw huge pepper bushes (trees actually) in several gardens.
A week later, James provided us with about two liters of tiny, red, hot peppers. Stems had been removed and they were nicely washed. Here's how we do this:
1. Scorch the peppers in a dry frying pan or sear on a grill. Leave whole.
2. Chop onions to about equal the volume of peppers.
3. Add a few cloves of garlic, chopped.
4. Optional items are chopped carrots or sweet, red peppers.
5. Combine in sauce pan and cover with liquid (1/3 citrus juice and 2/3 cider or white vinegar).
6. Add a little salt and simmer 30 minutes.
7. Let cool and puree with immersion blender or similar.
8. Carefully taste and add more salt or vinegar.
The sauce will mellow out after a week. It will be very hot at first. No need to refrigerate if you add enough acid (citrus and vinegar). If it starts to grow mold, add more vinegar and shake up. The peppers James provided yielded 3 liters of hot sauce. He was very pleased to get two wine bottles full.
We started our hot pepper sauce craze in the Abacos, Bahamas. We ate at a Haitian restaurant that served picklees, a slaw with plenty of hot peppers. They told us about the goat peppers that grow on the island. We found them in the grocery store and were hooked. Down island we couldn't find more goat peppers until we anchored in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera. A local man who specialized in killer, goat pepper sauce reluctantly sold us some of his prized peppers.
We thought that would be the last of the goat peppers until two years later we arrived in Marquesas, French Polynesia. We bought some peppers in a local market. The minute we cut into them we knew for sure they were goat peppers. Some of the seeds have been carefully preserved. Liz has them in Milwaukee. We hope she populates the neighborhood with these fearsome, distinctly flavored peppers.