Friday Food Blogging May 22, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Food and Drink.
Tags: authenticity in cusines, Sriracha
Authenticity matters, to some degree, when sampling ethnic foods. (Why it matters is difficult to understand—perhaps the topic of a future post.)
I’m not a big fan of it , but I’ve always wondered where the ubiquitous Sriracha sauce comes from—that sweet, garlickly, hot, red sauce in a bottle with the rooster on it. You can find it in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants. I’ve seen in in Korean and Japanese restaurants as well.
It turns out it is as American as catsup.
John Edge in the New York Times interviews Sriracha’s creator, David Tran:
I made this sauce for the Asian community,” Mr. Tran said one recent afternoon, seated at headquarters, near a rooster-shaped crystal sculpture.
I knew, after the Vietnamese resettled here, that they would want their hot sauce for their pho,” a beef broth and noodle soup that is a de facto national dish of Vietnam. “But I wanted something that I could sell to more than just the Vietnamese,” he continued.
After I came to America, after I came to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Heinz 57 ketchup and thinking: ‘The 1984 Olympics are coming. How about I come up with a Tran 84, something I can sell to everyone?’ ”
What Mr. Tran developed in Los Angeles in the early 1980s was his own take on a traditional Asian chili sauce. In Sriracha, a town in Chonburi Province, Thailand, where homemade chili pastes are favored, natives do not recognize Mr. Tran’s purée as their own.
I knew there was a reason I don’t much care for it—it is not authentic. But why do I care about authenticity?