Plenty of Americans stuck chips in salsa over the long holiday weekend, but not many of them dipped as many chips as Lisa, also known as the Homesick Texan. As she explains on her blog, she went to Austin to serve as a preliminary judge in a salsa competion.
The judging began in the morning, and when I walked into Serrano’s, a local restaurant where we were housed to do the deed, there were heaping steam trays filled with migas, refried beans and homemade flour tortillas. … And on the long table where we sat, there were numerous baskets of crisp salty tortilla chips—the perfect vehicle for the onslaught of salsas.
Lisa was one of 30 preliminary judges tasked with tasting 1,000 salsas and deciding which would advance to the finals to be tasted by the celebrity judges at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. There were four categories—red, green, pico de gallo, and a special category that included moles, chile pestos, and one unique version that was made with a base of pickle juice.
As Lisa reports, “At first the salsas arrived slowly, giving each judge time to ponder its worthiness.” The pace increased as the day went by. “[T]he salsas started arriving more frequently, and at that point there was less time to savor and share and instead the judging turned into a marathon eating session. Not that I minded.” Sometimes things took a humorous turn as well, with one judge commenting, “This salsa is bi-polar. It doesn’t know if wants to be a barbecue sauce or a hot sauce.”
Though perhaps the true humor of a preliminary salsa taster comes out here:
One of the preliminary judges’ traditions is to send on to the next round some truly awful-tasting salsas so the celebs can feel our pain. We did our part by sending along one of the super-salty salsas, as well as the pickle juice salsa. That gave us a giggle as we imagined the celeb judges’ faces as they were forced to eat these questionable entrants.
All in a chip-chomping day’s work.