My teenage son’s love for everything Chile started Dragons love tacos. He and I were introduced to the children’s book—illustrated by Daniel Salmeri and written by Adam Rubin—when a friend left a copy of The New York Times A bestseller on my balcony a decade ago, shortly after the book was published. In the story, a young boy hosts taco parties in his house and invites some mythical reptiles to come, only to discover that they don’t like spicy salsa. The Dragon can handle only the lightest salsa. If there was a hint of hot pepper, steam would come out of the dragons’ ears and the creatures would eventually shoot. At the end of the book, the accidental addition of a jalapeno causes the boy’s house to be inadvertently burned by the dragons. Even after ten years, Dragons love tacos He keeps making my baby and me laugh. We are not just.
A generation of children and their parents have found humor and reflections on themselves in the picture book. It was a runaway success and has been the subject of a bookstore reading series and children’s theater productions. Many kids focused on salsa. Among them is my son, aka Taquito, who has collected his own hot sauces over the years.
His squad has expanded since my tenure as Texas MonthlyTaco Editor. I bring home a few bottles or jars of salsa when I get back from a trip. My son greets them with excitement. “Your ass will burn, old man,” he once said, referring to the Instagram Live tasting sessions I hosted on my @tacotrail account. Taquito loves those contests that are broadcast, which consist of a series called Ring of Fire. I do that too. Tasting allows us to bond, and gives him the freedom to lose his rude attitude. During the tasting, we arrange six to ten sauces in random order, with the labels facing the camera to increase the suspense. The next sauce could be milder than the previous one — or it could burn your gut lining. Takito’s sweet talk is hot, too. I laugh every time wisdom cracks. “Watch out, Papi, you might get your pants on with the next pants!” “do you cry?” “This will fry your nose hair, Pops.”
Last year we stopped at New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute in Las Cruces, 45 minutes north of El Paso. Plus an educational park (available for tours) and a public parkAnd the There is a gift shop in an academic building nearby. It’s modest, the size of a small college classroom, and has a sign above the door. When we opened the shop door, Takito and I were panting so loudly that it seemed like we might be sucking all the air out of the place. Inside the room was a treasure trove of books, posters, seed packets, chuchki, and salsa related to chile. Of all the items we purchased, the 4 packs of hot sauces were the most memento of my beloved son. Hot sauces contain generous servings of jolokia and Scorpion chiles, two of the world’s hottest sauces, according to the Scoville Scale, a measure of capsaicin in chili peppers. Of course, once we were back in Dallas, Takito insisted on a Ring of Fire competition using the new sauces. I agreed with fear.
It does not mean that I have a low capsaicin tolerance. There is no way I can meet the demands of my job without being able to put up with an infernal hot chile. It’s just that you forgive less than my son can handle. During one of the Ring of Fire challenges, I passed two glasses of water, one beer, and a small pile of napkins, which I blew my nose at several times. There was also a bout of hiccups. However, Taquito did not take a sip of the water, and to his disappointment, the salsa did not adversely affect the gut.
Our latest Ring of Fire challenge featured one sauce: Totally Mild Salsa, a red tatimada sauce produced in collaboration between Dragons love tacos Author Adam Rubin and Miguel Banuelos of San Antonio, owner of Salsa Pistolero, for the 10th Anniversary Celebration Publish the book. (Full disclosure: I know Robin and Banuelos, and I linked them when Robin launched a food producer’s invitation for commemorative salsa.) The poster is an exact copy of the poster in the picture book. The colored crayon-like line belies the slight heat inside. Fire-based, fire-roasted tomato sauce with a hint of jalapeño isn’t a teenage thing his taco editor dad can’t handle. It’s light and sweet at first. However, the spice slowly lingers on the tongue and moves up the sides of the mouth before dissipating. What remains is a rich condiment that is perfect for snacking – or for eating Dragons love tacos Ceremony.
Salsa is very similar to the table sauce served with chips at Tex-Mex restaurants. As a matter of fact, Banuelos was inspired by salsa roga at La Fogata Mexican Cuisine in San Antonio. He calls it one of the platonic ideals of sauce. “Salsa is one of the hubs in my life,” Banuelos told me over the phone. “She was my North Star.” After three test batches, Banuelos got their final product, and Robin was overjoyed. Only one hundred jars were produced, so they are in limited supply, but if you’re interested in a jar, you can contact Salsa Pistolero through her Instagram account.
“It was the perfect way to celebrate the book’s 10th anniversary,” Rubin told me during a phone interview. He admitted that he never imagined the book would be as influential or popular as it had become. “Many picture books come out every year, every month. It’s impossible to think that way,” he said. “It’s surreal, making something out of real life that you can eat and taste helps connect with the actual reality of that thing we made ten years ago.” I don’t know how long Taquito will be interested in salsa taste tests with his old man, but I will put up with the pain, behavior, and laughter while they last.