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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Hot, Hot, Hot!

Monday, June 6, 2011 @ 07:06 AM

2We finally have some warmer weather on our hands, and considering we are now into June, I would say it’s about time.  And it’s nice weather like this that takes me back to last summer, when there was lots of fun to be had.  One such fun was an excursion that is fitting with the weather…HOT!

This next stop is not exactly for a specific dish in particular, but rather a condiment that in the culinary world is well known and loved by many…Tabasco!  There are many knock-offs and even competitors nowadays to this little bottle of heat, but what we learned was that the original and still most famous continues to outshine them all; and while I’ll admit I am not a fan of the hot sfuff, I am always up for a little history and knowledge of a food related product.  So when we realized while in New Orleans we happened to be near the famed home and production line of Tabasco, we knew we should make a stop in on our jaunt back to Dallas.

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The tour itself isn’t really that great (just a short 5 minute history lesson from a guide, that same lesson on a marketing video, then a quick walk past the production lines through a hallway with windows into the factory).  However, the information you receive is pretty cool.  What I found baffling is how popular this sauce really is!  I’m talkin’ worldwide, if all 4 of their production lines are running, they will bottle 700,000 2 oz. bottles each day!  Yes…I said it…., in a day!  I mean, I knew this stuff was popular, but Adam and I were both shocked when we heard just how popular.

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So while this tour is far from extensive and there really isn’t much to see, I still found it interesting to hear more history behind the product, and found it so very fascinating that this special pepper and its sauce was created right here in the United States.  Also, while this operation hardly seems large in comparison to many other factories in the world, they are churning out a heck of a lot of hot sauce each day.

Finally, the grounds of the island are really neat too.  On the property where the bottling building is located is also their county store, which is a fun experience to be able to see just how many other Tabasco products have since been created, including other flavors of their sauce.  I had a good time going down the line from mild to Tabasco and even beyond…trying all of the variations.  They even have other dishes (LIKE ICE CREAM!!!), that has been infused with Tabasco flavor.  So what I’m getting at is for the Tabasco love, and believe me there are tons, this is the one stop shop!

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SIGNATURE DISH: Well although they aren’t known for a dish per se, they are known for a pretty famous item…, Tabasco.  And the McIlhenny family has been doing that name proud for generations.  With fans around the world and the introduction of new varieties each year, they continue to grow this brand beyond belief.

TASTE: While I am not particularly a fan, I knew I had to visit simply for posterities sake.  I am simply what you might dub a “wuss” when it comes to anything hot or spicy, and while the flavor intrigues me, it never intrigues me enough to want to dump it all over my food, like many Tabasco loves do…., I mean on anything!  But, I will say it does come in quite handy around our house for a famed family bbq sauce recipe/marinade, so I still put it to good use…, just sparingly!

AMBIANCE: This was the gem of the experience.  This property is very scenic and beautiful; and while I would have loved the chance to go and actually see all of the pepper plants themselves, the two main buildings where the Tabasco is bottled are quite historic looking and charming.  The country store is equally as appealing; and as I said, while there isn’t a TON to do on your visit, if you have a free afternoon, this is a fun free activity to do.

PRICE: Free is always good in my book, especially where a tour is involved.  While this tour wasn’t near as exciting as a brewery tour with free beer at the end, it was still a good deal.  Also, if you are an avid fan (or even just a small fan) of this original hot sauce, the country store may be where you end up spending those bucks, because they can certainly wheel you in with every possible item with the Tabasco logo you could possibly want.  In the end, however, if you have some self control you will come out unscathed.

SERVICE: Every employee we encountered on our visit was very helpful and informative…cheerful even.  Those that led our tour were able to answer any question we may have had and those that worked in the store were happy to let you try just about anything you wanted.

Overall, we had a nice little detour to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco.  And like I mentioned before, it is worth just a quick stop in if you have a minute or two while traveling…just something neat to say you’ve seen.  3 1/2 ‘Little Piggies’

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