SONTAVA! XXX Habanero Hot Sauce
By Belly Buddy David Hughes
Hot sauces come in many varieties- this happens to be my favorite type- the Belizean/Yucatanian style of habanero sauce with a carrot-puree base, and lime juice. Sontava! XXX is imported from Belize, Central America to the United States by D.L. Jardine of Buda, Texas (near Austin).
This stuff has virtually no salt in it, yet it tastes as if it does. It has that certain satisfying quality that something salty gives you, but without the actual salt. Perhaps it's the lime juice. The carrot-puree base serves to give it some 'body', as well as being a good medium for moderating the heat- plus, it has just the right color.
The second I opened the bottle my heat-seeking, pepper-craving mouth began to water. The aroma is unreal! I had eaten the 'X' and 'XX' versions of this same sauce, and loved them, but this 'XXX' stuff is another level of hot! I went at it as I usually do with any other habanero sauce, but from my first pork rind with a large dollop of Sontava! XXX on it, I knew I might have bitten off just a tiny bit more than I could handle at once.
First, there is the tropical fruitiness of the habanero and the lime juice, and then BLAMMO!! The capsaicin kicks your ass! But this is not one of those sauces that's all heat and no flavor. It's one that you might wish would leave you with a few living taste buds so that you could actually enjoy the fabulous flavor.
Wonderful stuff if you can find it in your part of the country (if not, it's available on the web at about $5 a bottle). Highly recommended if you like yer buds to scream really loud! If you prefer a little more flavor without all the screaming, try the regular (milder) Sontava! or maybe the 'XX'. Similar sauces are Melinda's or Marie Sharp's, both made in the same general area near the Yucatan Peninsula.
And remember... gulping beer won't wash away the heat! It actually makes it feel worse! A big ol' gob o' mashed taters is probably the best thing. Anything starchy will help, even a banana.
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"It was as natural as eating and to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking beer." -Ernest Hemingway.