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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> scams


Earlier This Week
A Poorly Stocked Wine Store in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
The Players: Bill and Roberta, Dave and Mary Jane, Numerous American Retirees, and One 30-Something Yuppie Store Owner Undoubtedly from the American California

“This is one of Baja’s best wines,” he said, indicating a dark red bottle. “Can I pour you a glass?”
“How much?” I asked.
“Eight dollars.”
“For a case?” I teased him.
“A glass,” he countered.
“At that price, it must be good,” I replied.
“You’ll love it,” he said. “It’s an artesanal wine.”
“What does that mean in the land of beer and tacos?”
“Small batches. Hand-crafted by dedicated wine people who know their terroir.”
“Sure,” I said. He poured for Roberta and me. I sipped.
“Notes of blackberry,” he announced. “A subtle balance of intensity and spirit.”
Jug wine, I thought, this is even inferior jug wine, but kept silent.
“What do you think?”
I glanced at Roberta, who was trying to keep from laughing while she sipped the same thing.
“What do you think?” he repeated.
Three-Buck Chuck is ten times better entered my mind. Roberta shrugged and winked, waiting for me to cut this pretentious ass into small ribbons of sour grapes. I took a smaller sip just to be sure. Mary Jane looked over, expecting me to ask the guy if this was the first red wine he had ever tasted.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?”
I almost said, If Thunderbird ever made a red wine, I would buy it instead for two bucks a bottle. At least I didn’t spit it out all over his counter,
He waited for me to rave about it. Instead, I stared at him for a long five seconds, gently set the nearly full glass in front of him, turned, and walked out of his shop without a word. Roberta, Bill, and Mary Jane followed me, grinning.
“Let’s go home and have some real wine,” Roberta suggested, looking to see if I was angry.
“Great idea,” I said, smiling, and we all walked to the car.
I sure have matured in my old age, I thought. Don Rickles slowly revolved in his grave.

Pepper Thieves

Posted by: Kelli Bergthold

Man Eating Pepper

From the pepper bandits who made off with more than 26,000 pounds of red peppers in Adra, Spain, to the pepper thief who stole 128 pounds of sweet peppers – valued at $20,000 – from a farm in California, chile peppers are definitely a hot commodity on the black market. But it’s not just humans who can’t help themselves to a bit of pepper pilfering.

Santa Fe, New Mexico residents Jamie Hascall and Dr. Betsy Brown were amazed not only to find a pack rat’s nest under the hood of their Subaru Forrester, but also by the Rat's Nestartful display of chile pods the rodent had collected from a nearby chile ristra that had fallen to the ground. It turns out that many different animals love peppers just as much as humans do. Birds, rodents, even dogs will grab the chance to sneak a bite of sweet peppers (even jalapeños) if the opportunity should arise. Because birds lack the kind of receptors on their tongues that cause humans to nibble habaneros carefully, they have a much higher tolerance for the capsaicin that makes peppers hot. In fact, many bird seed producers include dried chile pods and seeds in their seed mixes.

Next time  you’re prepping a spicy dish, or adding some fresh hatch chiles to the grill, make sure there are no would-be pepper felons hanging around, waiting for a taste!

The Myth of Hatch Chiles

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them.  It is not a chile variety, as many people think.  Yes, there are chiles grown in Hatch, usually the varieties 'Barker' and 'NuMex 6-4'.  These grown-in-Hatch varieties are no better than those grown in the Mesilla Valley or in Deming.  There are simply not enough chiles grown in Hatch to supply all of the sellers claiming to provide "Hatch chile."  A few years ago at the New Mexico Chile Conference, I spoke to two women who have a chile farm in eastern Arizona who confessed to me that they shipped their chiles to Hatch, where roadside vendors labeled them "Hatch chiles."  So, how did this mythology come about?  Well, first, there is a Hatch brand of canned chiles, packed by Border Foods in Deming.  This brand has been on the market for years, but probably most of these chiles are grown in Mexico, not Hatch.  Then there is what Jimmy Buffet calls the "coconut telegraph," but here it's the Capsicum Telegraph--namely word of mouth and rumor from consumers who mistakenly spread the hype.  Sorry to burst everyone's Hatch bubble, but I always tell it like it is.  Photo by Paul Ross, shot in Hatch.

Bernie in Hell

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: scams , hot sauce , fiery foods

 A New York City artist has come up with a great way to insult the disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff: a bottle of hot habanero sauce called "Bernie in Hell." Alex Gardega said he wanted to make a statement about Madoff, who is accused of taking $50 billion from investors in his fund. Bottles of the sauce, available for sale at $10 each on Gardega's website, bear a photograph of the financier with horns on his head and dollar signs for eyes.  "This sauce is habanero-based and very good and hellishly hot!" Gardega wrote on his blog. He also wrote that the bottles had been produced as a limited-edition artwork rather than as a condiment.  More text on the bottle reads, "You can take the money but can you take...the heat?!!!"  Visit Gardega's blog here.

Many years ago I wrote a novel that was never published called Sidewinders, and in it my hero, a journalist, uncovers a plot to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. in cans of Mexican food products like enchilada sauce.  Well, today in Durham, Ontario police arrested Mahendrapaul Doodnauth (how could I make that name up?) and charged him with smuggling 276 kilos of pure cocaine in 1,250 boxes of Sari hot sauce, which is made in Guyana.  Doodnauth is the owner of Caribbean International Food Distributors.  The cocaine was in plastic bags that were taped to the cardboard inserts that separated the bottles of hot sauce.  Once again, fiction becomes fact!

Attention Industry People: Scam Alert

Posted by: Fiery Foods Manager

Tagged in: scams

Doug "Captain Redbeard" at Captain Foods writes: " An e-mail from a person or company called Keith Moore Investments from Spain is looking for products for one of his stores in Spain.  He says they will pay by credit card but the scam is in the shipping requirements that that they require you to meet.  His English is very bad and he doesn't know anything about our industry and you can tell he is trying to wing it.  So please broadcast this as a warning to our fellow vendors and such and hope nobody falls for this.   This same e-mail and I think person e-mailed this about 6-8 months ago and this sounds like the same one!"

Note from Dave DeWitt: Remember that credit card charges can be easily reversed.  Have your bank open a new "trust account" for you and insist that foreign customers do a wire transer of funds to it.  Do not give out the real company checking account number.

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