Recently, David Ortiz, a.k.a. Big Papi–hitter of 11th-hour home runs, maker of miracles, and Red Sox DH–launched his own line of hot sauces, partly to benefit a children’s charity. The story goes that Big Papi loves to cook, and is often quoted exclaiming, “You gotta bring da spice!” When I heard about this, I nearly jumped out of my skin. If there are two things I love, they’re hot sauce and the Red Sox.
No one can really help being a Red Sox fan–it’s genetic. As for the hot sauce obsession, I used to be an editor at Chile Pepper magazine, where we tasted literally hundreds of spicy concoctions for one issue a year devoted to the stuff. It was not uncommon to find me in my cube, surrounded by bottles, licking up spoonful after spoonful of hot sauce. Even now, I crave a little slurp of hot sauce in the afternoon, as a pick-me-up. I know good hot sauce when I taste it.
Obviously, I had to get my hands on some Big Papi En Fuego, as the sauces are called. But I was skeptical. They were likely to be generic, un-cared-for sauces; coasting by, getting press because of the charity connection and the Big Papi name.
But no! I am not cutting my beloved Big Papi any slack when I say that the original flavor of Big Papi en Fuego is a very well-made sauce. The thick, brick red brew is lent depth from the additions of garlic, lime juice, and cilantro, and rounded out by both carrots and sugar for a little sweetness. Plus, it has a pretty serious kick to it, thanks to the three chiles used to make it–cayenne, habanero, and chipotle. I guess you could say that it’s a cross between a Louisiana-hot sauce (cayenne and vinegar) and a Latin American sauce (habanero, lime juice, cilantro)–which makes sense since Ortiz is from the Dominican Republic.
The other sauces in the Big Papi en Fuego line were just fine, but none were as good as the original. Pick up a bottle at the website.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2009