I haven’t bought a bag of chips and a jar of salsa in weeks. Nor have I picked up any of the individual ingredients to make my own salsa, which I learned how to do with my friends and their families growing up in the southeastern tip of Houston, Texas.
“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “If you’re going to write about how incredibly awesome salsa is, then why the hell are you opening with the ‘I don’t buy salsa’ line?”
Let me explain: Whenever I would buy chips and salsa (or salsa ingredients), my intention was to eat them with some degree of moderation. Chips and salsa are, after all, a snack food. My original plan was always to cook a nice soup, bake something in the oven, or prepare a stove-top dish of some kind. The chips and salsa were for munching, and I wasn’t going to jeopardize my meal plans by…
Screw that. I finished them all. Always. Every time. Soup can go to hell.
This happened to me, over and over, because salsa tastes really, really good. According to a 2014 projection, 71.69 million people in the U.S. eat salsa during any given week. Even without chips, this traditional Mexican culinary masterpiece can be added to just about anything — breakfast foods, vegetable dishes (especially potatoes), and yes, even pizza.
Not all salsas are created equal (or correctly, for that matter), and to better understand what goes into a good one, you have to know a thing or two about the condiment’s rich history. A history that, as it turns out, predates the arrival of the first Spanish settlers in North, South, and Central America.