FOOD CURRENTLY: Sriracha, Foraging, and (iPhone) Apps

Bro, do you even forage?

With the amount of coverage regarding the looming Sriracha shortage – beloved condiment to gutter punks, French chefs, food bloggers, and your mom, (and starring briefly as a Lay’s flavor) – one has to ask if we’ve hit Foodie Critical Mass. There’s never been more excitement or conversation about food, restaurants, and the food system, which is great. Sriracha is the perfect embodiment of where we are with food culture, a rags to riches story featuring an entrepreneur bringing to light a previously unappreciated cuisine by using an easy-to-get and very bold flavor profile. Its ubiquity is shocking; a recent trip to the Bahamas landed me in the island’s poorly stocked grocery store, featuring only cans of tuna, wilted iceberg, and a fully stocked Sriracha aisle.

Mass appreciation at hand, the widespread obsession with eye-wateringly hot foods has grown as well, so facing this shortage, now’s the chance for a new star to take center stage. Gochujang, the funky fermented Korean hot spread (you’ll find it in any Koreatown BBQ) is an easy sub. Szechaun peppercorns, made famous by Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese, make your tongue numb, and the still-long waits suggest that Mission’s cinnamon challenge quality has definite appeal.

Perhaps, though, Fredrik Berselius’s brilliant foraging for Aska could be the buzzy new thing (maybe facilitated by the help of the anything-on-demand Wunwun app). It’s hard to imagine drunk bros foraging for conifer sprouts in Washington Square Park, but I don’t think that anybody foresaw sending children the to the hospital with inflamed stomachs from Flaming Hot Cheetos. Just imagine what it would mean for Santacon. Next year…

Pineapple-Caramel Margaritas & A Taco Shack Hit NYC Today

What did I just hear? The sound of acoustic guitar music and pork belly sizzling on an open grill? Yes. With today’s opening of Tequila Park, the new tequila and taqueria at the Hudson Hotel, NYers are offered an evening of sipping strawberry-mint and pineapple-caramel margaritas, holding a maple-braised taco in one hand and kimchi shrimp nachos in the other, and reclining into a sea of throw pillows –  all to the sweet sounds of live, acoustic guitar music and a 20-foot outdoor movie screen playing black-and-white classics.

With 40 kinds of tequilas and an actual taco shack doling out Sriracha cheese steak and tuna tacos, Tequila Park is basically that place you go when you 1. Can’t afford to go to Mexico 2. Are sick of eating pasta and 3. Have a “thing” for sexy, scruffy acoustic guitar players.

Get the inside-scoop on Tequila Park, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Internet Loves Its Sriracha, Chicken & Waffles; Wants to Make Them Lay’s Flavors

Today, Lay’s announces the winners of its unusually hyped Do Us A Flavor competition, an effort to crowd-source some exotic new flavor profiles for its potato chips. And America—really, the Internet, based on these selections—chose three flavors that would probably seem weird to most, but seem pretty unsurprising for a vote left up to mostly young people who spend a lot of time online. Your finalists, America: greasy pizza accompaniment Cheesy Garlic Bread, popular American southern/chic metropolitan brunch spot staple Chicken & Waffles and Sriracha, the spicy condiment known as “Hipster Ketchup” by people who still use the word “hipster” like it means something. Garlic Bread is sort of an everyman, but the other two have something of culinary cult followings, so again, makes sense.

Now, folks on the Internet who weren’t ravenous about making their snack flavor choices heard are reacting to this selection of flavors with a variety of responses, including surprise, revulsion and intrigue (also apathy, hunger). For every fervent #TeamChickenandWaffles wall of tweets that come up on my dashboard are several blog posts about how crazy and weird these new flavors are. But really, Lay’s makes all sorts of flavors of snack crisps Americans would find strange to match the palates of their international consumers. This isn’t new. If you go to China, you’ll find a Pepsi and chicken-flavored (yes, together) flavored bag, based on a popular dish, as well as blueberry and lemon tea-flavored versions. The United Kingdom has Prawn Cocktail, Spain an incarnation that tastes like biting into a really salty ham hock.

See? Not weird when put into perspective. Also if we all put the same concerted effort and innovation into campaigning for unusual snack foods as we did to save the world / fight global warming / making sure Happy Endings stays on the air forever, we could get a lot done, right? That said, #TeamSriracha, all the way.