After a particularly torrid encounter with an innocuous looking salsa verde in one of Mexico's more authentic quesadilla stands, I almost swore off anything containing a habenero chile. Between mouthfuls of water and hushed giggles from the wait-staff, the thought flittered through my mind that perhaps my sensitive Anglo-Saxon tastebuds were a little too vanilla, and I, a little too 'gringo' for what was on offer this south of the border. As someone who has been used to dousing most of my meals in a variety of fiery red sauces for the best part of the last five years, the fear with which I proceeded to approach the condiments bar was most unusual. This simply wouldn't do. Quite apart from the fact that as a vegetarian, I was going to have to endure two years of rice and beans in desperate need of some sprucing up, we were going to spend a significant amount of time in the country that coined the term 'salsa picante'.
It was a couple of weeks later, standing in one of Belize's many Chinese run supermarkets debating the merits of tinned sardines, that my eyes came to rest on the hot sauce aisle. Casually, I sauntered over and admired the tourist-inspired miniature bottles. I so desperately wanted back in. The excitement of a well-salted fried egg had passed, and I craved the fire I once loved. That is, until I read the names. 'Fiery Hot', 'No Wimps Allowed' and simply 'Beware'. These are generally not the descriptive terms the spice-phobic like to see adorning their groceries. These are the groceries that you make fraternity pledges pour on their scrotum. I ran away. Andrew laughed.
Two days later, and possibly still drunk from the stupendously cheap and lethal rum sold in the same supermarkets, I caved. And the rest, is, as they say, history. Marie Sharp's, I love you.
As common-place on the dining room table as a salt shaker, this world-famous hot sauce has been spicing up dishes across the globe for 25 years.
Using the potent red habenero pepper as the base to all her sauces, Marie Sharp has created a condiment not for the faint hearted. Those not familiar with the heat and dousing their dishes in the presence of locals will be met with a jovial warning as they witness yet another 'gringo' about to need a very large glass of water.
But pick a level of spice you can stand, and this will be a welcome addition to every meal. Amazon has it in stock, by the way.
The factory where the sauce is produced holds daily tours. If you happen to be passing through Dangringa, it is well worth spending a few hours sampling as many products as you dare!