The Art of Salsa

September 12, 2010
Salsa – it’s a finicky thing. Store bought is rubbish. Never hot enough. Or maybe it’s hot, but fermented and weird. Or maybe it’s too chunky. How about too liquidy? At the end of the day, salsa is very much a personal experience. It’s about finding yourself, a unique journey into your own psyche. One discovers their own unique likes and dislikes, and can create something personally suited to them. Spice, flavor, texture, and all under your own control. Salsa is a brilliant amalgamation of art and science. Cooking, as we all know is scientific. However, it takes artistic genius to create that perfect blend. Within this article, I will explore a few avenues to help guide you along your brave salsa expeditions.

So, the common components I throw in my salsa will be written here. Let’s see, you got your tomatoes – that’s inherently obvious. But honestly, I have those just as a base, the real taste comes from a myriad of other sources. Not to excluded from this catalogue are your habaneros. A pepper famed for its spice – you won’t want to take out your contacts after handling these. Another great spice additive are jalapeños. Red or green, don’t discriminate on color, they both have their virtues. Red will give you a little more spice and a more stereotypical salsa coloring. However, green jalapeños tend to be a little bit cheaper and are good if you don’t want to have steam coming out of your ears (bear in mind that’s an exaggeration, at least for me, I have a really high tolerance for spice.)

However, pure tomatoes and spice can get a little drab, that’s why there are other ingredients in the world. Some of which, you can even use in salsa. Garlic. Bad breath, sure, but it will stop vampires from raiding your salsa stash while adding some scrumptious flavoring. We also got our onions. Just don’t wipe your eyes when you cry, if you’ve been handling peppers, you’ll be crying for a whole ‘nother reason. My personal favorite non-spicey addition is cilantro. Very very yummy. It just has that ahhh… feeling to it.

Some things that are a little odd to throw in salsa include cumin (an Indian spice), corn, and cats. However, some people like them. I personally have used cumin to great effect, and I know a few people who throw in corn, but I’m a little skeptical of it. For the record, I’m an animal lover, so please don’t throw Mr. Bigglesworth, Fluffy, or even little Harry into your food processor – it’ll spoil the texture.

Now, for you brave souls out there, there is one pepper so great, so illustrious, so provocative, and so utterly spicey that it would be a crying shame to ignore! This pepper, the holy grail of spice, is called Naga Jolikia. Named after the Naga Warriors, it hails from areas of India and Bangladesh and scores a 1,000,000 on the Scoville Scale. Use with caution. However, if you really want to spice things up, it is as acceptable to use as Law-Enforcement Grade pepper spray, which, incidentally, scores about a 5,000,000 on the Scoville Scale.

Throw the ingredients in the ratios you want into a food processors. The cool part about this is that you can throw them in at different times and slice them at different lengths of time in order to create your own texture. I prefer the liquidy stuff. Remember, salsa is a calculated science, that takes precision to perfect, but once you master it, you have turned this science into a personal art form equivalent to the work of Picasso or Van Gogh.

Join the Discussion

This article has 18 comments. Post your own now!

NicoleS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm
awesome! you're a great writer
CarrieAnn13 said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm
I love the little splashes of humour you add to this piece.  It's kind of informal for an academic piece, but it's good.  Excellent work!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm
Thank you :)  I actually put this in academic as a little joke, and then it started appearing on the front page of academic section and I thought "whoops".  Then I thought "Hey thats kinda funny"
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm
I guess that's life! :)
lilmartz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm
This is really good, especially for not even rereading it. Though, I did catch some grammer mistakes! Also, in the beginning you did a lot of "this article will tell you...and, I will tell you..." The key is not to tell the reader, but to show them and just dive into it. If only those couple sentences were cut out, this would be amazing! It also would have been nice if you got a little more personal with this article and told us more about how you like to eat your salsa and make it, rather than ... (more »)
CubeRunner said...
Feb. 16, 2011 at 10:22 am
I really enjoyed this!  My dad makes salsa, but he makes pico de gallo (I think that's how you spell it) and he bought this commercial grade, all-stainless steel chopper that makes perfect cubes.  Before we moved, we had a garden at a friend's houst that used to be an emu run--really fertilized, if you know what I mean.  Every week, we would bring in pounds and pounds of tomatoes, jalapenos, habeneros, and zuccini.  My dad would bring all his extra habeneros to work an... (more »)
redcg416 said...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm
The humor in this article made me think it was almost a joke. It worked in spots but in other spots it seemed so overdone. I loved your word choice.
Annerdy said...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm
I liked the witty humor in your writing. It's certainly not a subject that most people decide to write about, so I applaud you for thinking outside the box. I actually enjoyed the mix of lighthearted and informational tones- that's a very distinct style of writing. However, some parts seemed kind of "rambling" and made me have second thoughts about what the purpose of your work was. Some parts, I understood the connection you were trying to make, but other parts seemed to lose my interest just a... (more »)
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm
As a food lover and hater of store bought canned salsa, I enjoyed this! BUTTTT....I think the humor in this isn't exactly good. I liked the way you used words but it sounded like you were trying to be cute. It's informational and enjoyable, but some parts were a little...odd. That's just my opinion though! Pretty good for something written without being reread!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Oct. 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

yeah I agree about the humor thing.  I think I was just in an odd mood and wasn't sure whether I wanted to be informational or satirical and wound up doing a weird half-hearted version of both.

Thanks for the feedback - especially since I agreed with it :P

MitchB. said...
Oct. 5, 2010 at 6:00 pm
lol that was awsome!!!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Oct. 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm
haha thanks
apocalyptigirl said...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I loved this! Your enjoyment of cooking and salsa really came out in your writing, along with a sense of humor that made me smile. :) Some things to consider: "Inherently obvious" is redundant; was that meant to be ironic? Also, you use the phrase "throw in" several times; you might want to vary it. Overall, there was a lot of detail, and while it made it spicier, sometimes it was "overdone," to continue the food metaphor ;). Just try to be concise but complete. 5 stars!


... (more »)

AgnotTheOdd replied...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm

haha yeah thanks.

Inherently obvious is redundant, I'll grant you that.  But, I heard it once, and for some reason it stuck.  I don't know.  I guess it just had a nice ring.

As for "throw in" i usually try to vary my language.  But this was just writing that i never even planned on anyone reading, so I just threw stuff in.

Salsas pretty good.

And I might just read more of your stuff ;) youre one of the few people id say that to on this site.

apocalyptigirl replied...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm
lol thanks...This makes me hungry for salsa now...
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I just made some :D

Its all in the tomato quality


Samantha.07 replied...
Jan. 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm
Okay, so I thought I was entering an article about the art of salsa..dancing. Yeah, I was a bit confused..especially when you brought up chunky and liquidy. But I realized that it was the food slasa, and thought it was a really great article! I love how you phrase words and make them fluent; I often have trouble making my sentences sound smart and smooth like that. I think you can make your purpose of the article a bit clearer, giving it a bit of a punch, but otherwise, I enjoyed it!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jan. 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm
thank you, thank you very much
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