A squinched-up face, complete with puckered mouth and shut eyes, may be the look we take on after eating a wedge of lemon, and a wrinkled nose is the product of devouring particularly fragrant cheese.
But a flat hand waved quickly before the mouth belongs to one product and one product only: hot sauce. If ever a condiment was able to summon tears and euphoria in one fell (and flavorful) swoop, it's the red-to-dark-red stuff that's stuffed with chilis and arrives in a pourable bottle.
And yes, sometimes it is green, too. And yellow. And mustard-hued (hoo, that's dang hot).
What? Is there a day devoted to hot sauce? Why yes, and it arrives in the coolest time of year: January. It's Jan. 22, though any SoCaler might claim that every day is National Hot Sauce Day 'round these parts, where bottles on tables are as standard a sight as salt and pepper shakers.
How will you spend the day, beyond waving your hand before your over-heated mouth? Well, by finding more ways to keep it the piquancy high. There's the all-hot sauce store at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax to peruse. If you don't leave Light My Fire with with something so searingly hot that it promises to blow the actual lid off whatever dish you're making, you haven't gone the distance, hot sauce fan.
And The Parlor on Melrose is devoting the night to Tabañero, and several capaiscin-centered doings, including fire eaters, a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band, year's supply-oriented giveaways, and, yep, a trade-in program.
Trade-in programs have become popular among beer enthusiasts but is this the first hot sauce-themed trade-in? Will you dig out that bottle from the back of the pantry that contains the most Boring Hot Sauce You Ever Purchased?
Because look: If you're not doing a bit of hand-waving in front of your mouth, your hot sauce probably doesn't deserve the word "hot" on the front. And if it is simply "sauce" it doesn't have a chili pepper to stand on.