The New York Times Breaks Your Sriracha-Loving Heart

By Spencer Ackerman

Your soul years for authenticity. Your palette years for sweet-hot chili paste. And your newspaper puts its arm on your shoulder and tells you, softly, that you must choose:

The lure of Asian authenticity is part of the appeal. Some American consumers believe sriracha (properly pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) to be a Thai sauce. Others think it is Vietnamese. The truth is that sriracha, as manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples.

It’s like Catharsis sang: in this world there’s nothing pure. Why should you want purity, anyway? Smear that sriracha on whatever you like. Enjoy its flavor, not what you think of as its provenance.

15 responses to “The New York Times Breaks Your Sriracha-Loving Heart

  1. That’s a great article and everything, but man. Of all the places I never expected to read a Catharsis reference.

  2. If it’s “properly” pronounced with “SIR” at the beginning, why on earth is it spelled with “Sri”? It’s a transliteration of something, right? So why transliterate stupidly?

  3. That stuff is really good. But also good, in a different way, is the Shark brand sriracha. It’s thinner and sweeter than the rooster brand. A perfect breakfast sriracha, good on early morning scrambled eggs.

  4. I also like the chili garlic sauce, but use sriracha to spice up nearly everything from soups to sauces. That said, sometimes there’s just no substitute for Frank’s Red Hot — although on reflection sriracha wings may go well with beer, too.

  5. I’m sorry, but exactly how is it ‘inauthentic’? Sriracha is a case of immigrants creating their own cultural space using chili paste. It may not be authentic to either Asia nor Anglo-America but I hope you don’t consider those to be the only two possible cultural wellsprings from which authenticity is born.

    I know it wasn’t meant this way, but your post comes off as suggesting that anything with a stereotypically parochial nativity is somehow false. By that logic, the experience of immigrants is by definition inauthentic, a sentiment I doubt you actually espouse.

    Sorry if I’m taking this too seriously, but I spend a lot of my professional life countering preconceptions about what is ‘genuine’ and am therefore highly attuned to suggestions that authenticity is limited to (seemingly) primordial cultural expressions by fixed, definite groups.

  6. ^ edit: anything WITHOUT a stereotypically parochial nativity

  7. @Corey +1

  8. I’ve run into a lot of this trying to get authentic Mexican foods in the US. Dishes I adored in Mexico get tweaked for the US palate. Many people in the US think Mexican food is hot and it’s not. Along the US/Mexican border food is spicy, but not so much in central or southern Mexico.

    Getting a true/pure ethnic dish can be difficult outside of one’s own region. Meats are cut a little differently; different spices are available; even the brands of ingredients affect the flavor and consistency. So, we improvise. Is it less purely authentic? Yes. Is it tasty? Yes. Is it the experience we wanted? Maybe so; maybe no.

  9. Corey,

    I think you misread the post.

  10. I forget. Why do people yearn for authenticity? I just yearn for yumminess.

  11. My heart “years”? My palette “years’?

  12. Pingback: Angry Rant From A Real Brooklynite: Ben Adler Has Jumped The Shark « The Internet Food Association

  13. regardless, Sriracha is delicious!

  14. Pingback: Angry Rant From A Real Brooklynite: Ben Adler Has Jumped The Shark | kashwaynepromotion.com

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