That’s right, May is National Salsa Month, and yes I know it’s also National BBQ, Hamburger, Salad, Strawberry, Egg, Asparagus, and Chocolate Custard Month too. Although I can get pretty excited about some good BBQ and burgers, salsa is numero uno for us this month.
I always wonder about the origination of these “National Holidays”, and I was surprised after quite a bit of research that this one is legit. National Salsa Month was created in 1997 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Pace Salsa. You may have heard of Pace, they’re part of the reason that salsa allegedly outsells ketchup nowadays. Regardless of the amount of salsa that is sold in the US there is one thing that can’t be disputed. Salsa is here to stay.
The way the word salsa is generically used in the US is somewhat of a misnomer. Salsa literally means sauce, and that really tells you nothing about what you’re eating. Technically “picante sauce” isn’t even an effective term because it means “spicy sauce”. If you want to be accurate you need to use terms such as:
- Salsa roja, “red sauce”: used as a condiment in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, and usually made with cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro.
- Salsa cruda (“raw sauce”), also known as pico de gallo (“rooster’s beak”), salsa picada (“chopped sauce”), salsa mexicana (“Mexican sauce”), or salsa fresca (“fresh sauce”), “salsa bandera” (“flag sauce”, in allusion to the Mexican flag): made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chilli peppers, onions, cilantro leaves, and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.
- Salsa verde, “green sauce”: Mexican version made with tomatillos. Sauces made with tomatillos are usually cooked. Italian version made with herbs.
- Salsa negra, “black sauce”: a Mexican sauce made from dried chilis, oil, and garlic.
- Salsa taquera, “Taco sauce”: Made with tomatillos and morita chili.
- Salsa ranchera, “ranch-style sauce”: made with tomatoes, various chilies, and spices. Typically served warm, it possesses a thick, soupy quality. Though it contains none, it imparts a characteristic flavor reminiscent of black pepper.
- Salsa cube (“raw sauce”), also known as pico de gallo, cheese, and cube steak.
- Salsa brava, “wild sauce”: a mildly spicy sauce, often flavored with paprika. On top of potato wedges, it makes the dish patatas bravas, typical of tapas bars in Spain.
Clear as salsa now? I thought so.
Anyway, enjoy more salsa than usual this month, and if any manufacturers are running salsa specials make sure to post them in the comments section for everyone to enjoy.