Miles of sugarcane fields fly by as we drive to Avery Island, a journey punctuated only by glimpses of sagging stilted houses that have seen more than their fair share of hurricane winds and flooding. It is the middle of nowhere, and yet, it just may be the center of the universe for lovers of hot spice. For here, some 30 miles south of Lafayette and 140 west of New Orleans, is where Tabasco sauce is born.
Last August, we traveled to this coastal marshland in south-central Louisiana for the explicit purpose of discovering how peppers, salt, and vinegar are combined to become a favorite accompaniment to eggs, jambalaya, and anything that might benefit from a kick of heat.
On a barometrically oppressive Saturday afternoon, we made our way to the 2,200-acre salt dome (a massive underground salt deposit) to see how that hot sauce is made. On the way, we are thankful for the rental car's air conditioning and mindful that we leave nothing on the dashboard, lest it melt in the Gulf sun.
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Tabasco, which now produces other flavored sauces, like chipotle and Buffalo-style, labels its Original Red Sauce in 22 languages and dialects, and ships it all across the globe. The company also does specialty runs of mini bottles for weddings, businesses, and even Air Force One.
PHOTO: Sara Bonisteel
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