Top 50 Bottles: Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Condiments?

04/08/2013 05:19 pm ET

Accidental Locavore Too Much Hot SauceAs the Accidental Locavore was moving recently and, in the process, combining the contents of two kitchens (never a good idea), it occurred to me that there might be a tipping point for certain condiments. How much hot sauce or mustard does someone need? When is it overkill and when is it simply overwhelming?

My friend, Ivan, lives in Texas so he was the first person I asked (Texas being a center of hot sauce, at least in my jaded NY mind). He said 16 bottles or two eight-packs. Not sure of the rationale behind that, but hey... On the other hand, my aunt would say more than one is excessive -- however she's not a fan of spicy, so I always hid the bottle from her when I put a drop or two of Tabasco in my Hollandaise sauce. Another friend, Julie, was taught that if "it lights a ring of fire on its exit, it's too much!" Personally, I think that speaks to the strength of the hot sauce, rather than the number of bottles, don't you?

Well, we're so far beyond 16 bottles, or even 32, that it could be considered embarrassing. Six bottles got tossed out in the move, but just combining the contents of the two refrigerators, we've easily got more than a dozen bottles. Besides my homemade, from some great jalapenos last summer, there's half a dozen bottles from a Kickstarter project I backed (and will write about shortly), and bottles of stuff we haven't even opened yet...

Like most things you have too much of, nearly all these hot sauces languish on the shelf. Of the (ready for this?) 50 bottles (before purging and/or combining), now down to 35, how many are actually in use? Tabasco in either the red or green version, occasionally the chipotle one. A strange one we picked up in Las Vegas from a Greek restaurant there -- Paymon's Racy Red Sauce. Harissa, especially since our friend Jamilla keeps us supplied with her homemade version (delicious and very hot!). And finally, the two I could put on almost anything (and the only ones we buy in big bottles): Frank's Red Hot and Sriracha.

Accidental Locavore the StraysAll of which still leaves us with about two dozen, possibly wonderful, bottles. Do we just hang on to them, waiting for that day something cries out for a new heat? Do we just toss them - unloved, untasted, unwanted? What's your favorite use for hot sauce?

But wait there's more...Found another seven bottles hiding out in a shopping bag, bringing the grand total to 57 bottles!