Salsa is one of the most overlooked parts of Mexican cuisine. Everyone eagerly digs in when they arrive at the Cantina and are greeted with chips and salsa, but the spicy dip often goes without much notice after the main courses arrive. Understanding the rich history behind salsa, and its cousin hot sauce, will give you a new appreciation for the sauce spicing up your Mexican food and adding zing to your tortilla chips.
Who Invented Salsa?
The nightshade plants that go into salsa, including tomatoes and peppers, are native to North and South America. Onions have also grown wild throughout the area for millennia. With so many tasty plants being bred for food, it's not surprising that the Mayans and Aztecs used salsa-like sauces to season their foods. The Spanish explorers who first arrived in the 1600s documented the use of salsa style sauces, but these original versions included squash and beans to create almost a complete dish in one.
How Did Hot Sauce Become So Popular?
Salsa simply means sauce in Spanish, so hot sauce is naturally a form of salsa with a smoother texture and higher concentration of vinegar and spicy peppers. Most hot sauces leave out the tomato and onion too for a pure pepper taste. Hot sauce has been sold commercially in the US since 1807, and jarred salsa became popular just prior to the 1950s. An influx of Mexican immigrants and the opening of the first Mexican restaurants increased demand for the condiment.
What Does Salsa Have To Contain?
Despite what some people think, there are no specific rules about what salsa must contain. Most recipes begin with a base of tomatoes, onions, and peppers, but some leave out all three ingredients. The addition of corn, beans, squash, tomatillos, avocado, and cilantro are common, and vinegar is usually used to add a little tanginess to the flavors. However, there is plenty of salsa including fruit, other vegetables, and even meat. You can stretch the definition of salsa to include almost any Southwestern-inspired sauce you create.
How Can I Sample New Salsas?
Ready to explore all the flavors of salsa and hot sauce the world has to offer? Start with a tour of what's available at Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina. For example, our nachos are topped with pico de gallo, which is the classic salsa fresca most people are familiar with. When you're prepared to walk on the wild side, order the Honey Chipotle Salmon. It's topped with a mango chipotle salsa that is intensely smoky and sweet at the same time. Another great option is the tomatillo sauce used on our Mexican Flag enchilada dish.pico de gallo, which is the classic salsa fresca most people are familiar with. When you're prepared to walk on the wild side, order the Honey Chipotle Salmon. It's topped with a mango chipotle salsa that is intensely smoky and sweet at the same time. Another great option is the tomatillo sauce used on our Mexican Flag enchilada dish.
We can even pack up your favorite salsa to go so you can enjoy it at home with chips. We aim to please here at Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina, so just ask if there's anything we can do to help you find the perfect salsa or hot sauce.