Hot Sauce TodayWhat's the trend? The hotter the better, but taste counts too. At hot & spicy food festivals and in cooking classes, I'm always asked: "What's the hottest hot sauce on the market?" A few people are seeking revenge, others like being macho, while some people just can't seem to get their food hot enough. Demand for the most incendiary sauce possible has prompted some makers to market vials of capsaicin (the chemical that gives chiles their sting), which to my mind is akin to extracting caffeine from coffee: caffeine is very powerful (and can kill you), but it misses the point -- taste. Sophisticated in their palates, most Americans are looking for heat and flavor -- not just burn -- and I suspect the most flavorful sauces will be the most enduring.
A hundred years ago, when the availability of ingredients often defined a hot sauce style, sauces were easily characterized by geography. Today regional distinctions become blurred, as people take their culinary traditions with them to new countries, and fresh exotic produce is available worldwide.
Excerpt from The Great Hot Sauce Book, by Jennifer Trainer Thompson