It has been said that the way a man applies his condiment is the way he applies himself. If this adage is true, then I applied myself three times daily for an entire week, to test the limits of my relationship with my topping of choice. My muse? The siren Sriracha.
What follows is the tale of our spicy odyssey. It is a story filled with heartache and heartburn. It is not for the faint of taste buds.
Upon receiving my Man Crates Sriracha Crate in the mail, I was filled with a combination of fear and elation. I had no doubt that Sriracha and I could withstand the test of 20 consecutive meals together, but I admit that up until that point I had taken the hipster-approved chili sauce for granted. Sriracha had always been there, waving from the bleachers at times of convenience, but to suddenly rely on it exclusively was an undertaking we’d yet to experience in our relationship.
As I pried at my crate with the attached Man Crates crowbar, I had an inkling that I was unleashing Pandora’s culinary box. The chaos that would surely follow could either strengthen my bond with Sriracha, or altogether destroy it. I shook off my apprehensions and cracked the container, come what may.
I lifted the lid with sweaty satisfaction, and was greeted with a who’s who of Sriracha products. In addition to the iconic Big Red paste, I uncovered the presence of such sidekicks as a canister of Sriracha peas, a packet of Sriracha beef jerky, a bag of Sriracha popcorn, a grinder of Insanely Savory Sriracha Flakes and a bottle of Fire Roasted Green Srirach-AH Pepper Sauce. I knelt in the presence of it all. Was a I worthy of such a bounty? I was humbled…but also hungry. I took my chances and sprung into action.
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 1
DINNER – CHICKEN POT PIE
With the artistic panache of a six-year-old, I squiggled my Sriracha across the face of its crust. I closed my eyes and took my first bite.
I was floored. The spice added so much to the pie’s ingredients, without taking away from the creamy goodness that makes it popular. Though I began the meal in reticence, I began to apply my Sriracha in multiple, ample doses.
The history of the chicken pot pie is surprisingly fascinating. Invented as an open-faced pie by the Greeks called “Artocreas,” it was then enhanced by the Romans who added a top-layer of crust. The dish was perfected and formally named by the British before it arrived in America. It may be time for the recipe to evolve again, as I now consider Sriracha a necessary ingredient in any pot pie recipe.
My journey was off to a delicious start. I had to admit it to myself: I felt butterflies when Sriracha came to mind.
WOULD REPEAT: DEFINITELY
WOULD RECOMMEND: STRONGLY
DESSERT – VANILLA ICE CREAM
While most effective if blended into the ice cream (either spoon-mixed, or after a few preliminary licks), this combination was uniquely addictive. The soothing cold cream foiled by Sriracha’s hot chili flavor boggled my senses, so much so that I went back for seconds.
I wanted sriracha to carry my books and walk me to class. My heart beat to the rhythm of a Donnie Osmond song. I had a full-blown crush on this condiment.
WOULD REPEAT: TO SHOW OFF
WOULD RECOMMEND: TO TRY
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 2
BREAKFAST – BACON & EGG SANDWICH
I awoke with a sense of purpose and drive, after the previous evening’s successful foray into my new Srirachan lifestyle.
I stumbled into the kitchen, flipped on the coffee maker, and got to work on my next canvas. The sandwich consisted of crispy bacon, a peppered egg and ripe avocado slices on a toasted flatbread bun. While I typically opt for a thin layer of mayo and a smattering of hot sauce, I forwent my usual toppings in favor of my new monogamous condiment relationship.
The results were positive, if not revelatory. For those who have sworn their allegiance to other condiments at the breakfast table, Sriracha might not redirect your devotion. For those still searching: search no longer.
WOULD REPEAT: OCCASIONALLY
WOULD RECOMMEND: TO UNDECIDED VOTERS
LUNCH – CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
As Sriracha mixed into the broth, my soup was elevated into a new stratosphere. A two-dollar lunch turned into a sinus-clearing phenomenon. This is my new life hack.
Every day I spent with Sriracha, I fell deeper in my dependency. I kept finding out new, exciting things about it. I couldn’t concentrate between meals, often finding myself wistfully looking out my window and imagining the birds completely covered in chili paste. Was this… love?
WOULD REPEAT: REGULARLY
WOULD RECOMMEND: ESPECIALLY WHEN SICK
DINNER – CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE
After four consecutive Sriracha successes, I had reached my first potential impasse. There are some traditions that shouldn’t be messed with, and corned beef and cabbage is one of them. Right?
Absolutely wrong. This was the greatest tasting meal thus far on my quest, and I will now never go back. I was ready to introduce Sriracha to my parents. And then, it dawned on me: if I was not careful, this condiment might one day break my heart.
WOULD REPEAT: EVERY ST. PATRICK’S DAY
WOULD RECOMMEND: VEHEMENTLY
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 3
BREAKFAST – GLAZED DOUGHNUT
This journey was going far better than I could have ever anticipated. Not only had every single meal thus far been a smashing success, but I had also finished all of my Sriracha beef jerky and was halfway through my canister of Sriracha peas. I had to throw a wrench into this campaign to end this undefeated streak.
I walked to the local doughnut shop and fatefully injected my frosted purchase with several Sriracha doses. Fellow customers stared with their mouths agape as I sunk my teeth into my doctored confection. The pairing was forced at best, but I finished it all the same. I’m sure this could be perfected over time. Sriracha just had a little growing up to do. Perhaps I did as well.
SRIRACHA-METER: 4 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: ONCE METHODS ARE PERFECTED
WOULD RECOMMEND: TO FOOD SCIENTISTS
DINNER – QUESADILLA
Having hit my first minor snag in Sriracha-Palooza, I played it safe for dinner, and rebounded big. Flour + Cheese + Sriracha is math that even I can follow. I stuck to the basics and stuffed my stats…and my face.
I don’t know why it happened, but I started having nostalgic thoughts about salsa midway through the meal. The notion that an ex like salsa would pop into my head while I was having such a great time with Sriracha seemed odd, and I felt guilty for it. I mean, I hadn’t had contact with salsa in more than a week. Still, the feeling was hard to shake, and it reminded me not to let my guard down entirely with Sriracha just yet.
SRIRACHA-METER: 8 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: TOTALLY
WOULD RECOMMEND: WHEN OUT OF SALSA
DESSERT – PEACH POPSICLE
I decided to shake off my fears of being overly vulnerable, and tried something really adventurous with Sriracha for dessert. As I applied Sriracha to my popsicle, the reality of my present circumstances hit me. I am a 30-year-old man who has voluntarily allowed a condiment to monopolize my life. Our relationship began to suddenly feel constricting. I’m certain Sriracha could tell that something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure how to articulate my feelings, and ate my popsicle instead.
It was exquisite. This popsicle was so good that it made me deeply ashamed of the negative feelings I had been keeping from Sriracha. I went to bed that night, near tears, contemplating how lucky I was to have this chili paste in my life.
SRIRACHA METER: 8.5 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: SURPRISINGLY, YES
WOULD RECOMMEND: TO DIEHARDS
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 4
BREAKFAST – CHEERIOS
Sriracha had begun to invade my dreams: I would be flying, and then deduce that I cannot fly, but then I would eat more Sriracha and levitation would continue.
I awoke the following morning, and was still feeling super-heroic until my very first bite of Sriracha Cheerios. It was far from appetizing, but I forged ahead, finished my bowl, and was pleasantly surprised at how good the remaining ‘Sriracha milk’ was—definitely the highlight of this one.
If that bowl of Sriracha-covered Cheerios taught me anything, it was that being there is half the battle. You have to be present with the ones you love. It takes work, but the work is often enjoyable. And even when the outlook appears bleak, there could be a little miracle remaining at the bottom of your bowl.
Big Red and I decided to take lunch apart, but would reconvene at dinner.
SRIRACHA-METER: 3.5 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: I COULD SEE IT HAPPENING
WOULD RECOMMEND: IN SELECT COMPANY
LUNCH – BLUE CORN CHIPS
I had to take it easy for lunch after my adventurous breakfast, to get our relationship back on track. I busted out my Srirach-AH Roasted Green Pepper sauce, to mix it up a bit. It was a great substitute for a salsa verde, with awesome flavor, and not at all too spicy.
The time away from Sriracha did right by both of us, and I now couldn’t wait to meet up for dinner.
SRIRACHA-METER: 9 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: DEFINITELY
WOULD RECOMMEND: STRONGLY
DINNER – SALMON
I decided to go for a “Sriracha Trifecta” at dinner. I sprinkled some Insanely Savory Sriracha Flakes on the salmon, zigzagged the chili sauce on a side order of squash, and brushed some asparagus with the Srirach-AH green chili sauce.
The asparagus was a misfire, but the flakes added a nice kick to the fish, and the squash went from boring to scoring. Two outta three ain’t bad, and I think Big Red was glad to know that, despite our time apart at lunch, it was still Number One in my eyes.
Sriracha didn’t spend the night that night, but I walked it to the refrigerator door and made sure it got inside okay.
SRIRACHA-METER: 6 / 10
WOULD REPEAT: MAYBE NOT
WOULD RECOMMEND: TO A BETTER COOK
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 5
BREAKFAST – BANANA
Breakfast seemed to be the most difficult meal to demonstrate my affinity for Sriracha, but I was going to go down swinging. I struck out in a big way; the texture clash at work here was too difficult to forge though.
My heart sunk. It had finally happened. This was our first fight.
WOULD REPEAT: NOT LIKELY
WOULD RECOMMEND: AS A GAG
LUNCH – MACARONI
I was in my own head, and I knew it was affecting my dynamic with Sriracha, but the truth was unavoidable: for the first time in our relationship, we had misfired on two consecutive meals. I sought out a friend to talk this out with, but I smelled so pungently of Sriracha that nobody felt comfortable giving me life advice.
WOULD REPEAT: IF OUT OF PASTA SAUCE
WOULD RECOMMEND: IF EXPERIENCING LOW SELF-ESTEEM
DINNER – VEGETABLE STIR FRY
This stir fry taught me a valuable lesson: I was being too clingy with Sriracha. If I wanted to show Sriracha how much I cared for it, I would have to be more discerning in my portioning. We were in this for the long haul, and I couldn’t allow my love to flame out by trying to make Sriracha something it’s not. I added some coconut aminos into the wok, and the result was much improved. Even if Sriracha and I were growing apart, we also were growing up.
WOULD REPEAT: IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER SAUCES
WOULD RECOMMEND: IN MODERATION
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 6
BREAKFAST – BLUEBERRY FRUIT AND NUT BAR
My earlier attempt to try and not be as clingy had left me deeply insecure. I could have Sriracha any time I wanted, but when did Sriracha want me?
Again, this breakfast just didn’t work. It was a weird way to start the morning. Blueberries and hot chili paste don’t have a lot of natural chemistry. Everything has its limitations. To love a condiment despite its shortcomings is a lasting love indeed.
WOULD REPEAT: NOT PUBLICLY
WOULD RECOMMEND: NAH
LUNCH – GARDEN SALAD
I looked back at my journal and concluded that I was probably in need of a vegetable. I made a light salad, with a little vinegar and some Sriracha to top it off.
The occasion felt overly formal, given Sriracha’s and my history. I suspected there were things still left unsaid between the two of us. Perhaps we both felt constrained by there being no fatty, fried foods in front of us. I vowed to correct this omission by suppertime, in the hope of discerning if what we had was the real thing, or merely fleeting happenstance.
WOULD REPEAT: WHEN FEELING SPICY
WOULD RECOMMEND: PROBABLY NOT
DINNER – FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
Like onetime lovers slow-dancing at a mutual friend’s wedding, Sriracha and I began to feel those old, familiar butterflies as I gluttonously devoured my chicken sammy. Though I couldn’t help but wonder what my old flames mayo, hot sauce or (yes, even) salsa might have done for that piece of fried clucker, the fact remained that Sriracha and I had shared something real in our time together. I didn’t want that sandwich to end.
WOULD REPEAT: IN A MAYO
WOULD RECOMMEND: YES
SRIRACHA DIARY: DAY 7
BREAKFAST – EGGS BENEDICT
The morning of our last day together, Sriracha and I kept our composure as we poached a few eggs. I didn’t want to treat this meal with any extra sentimentality; after all, schmaltz is a condiment that doesn’t come in a Man Crate. It was time to face facts. This adventure, from the beginning, was designed to eventually end. The acceptance of this reality only added to the poetry of our remaining time together.
I whipped Sriracha into my hollandaise sauce; it was a tasteful amount, and was an effective addition. It might have been our most mature collaboration yet. I finished my meal, washed the dishes, and knew that the affair was all but over.
WOULD REPEAT: UNLIKELY
WOULD RECOMMEND: IF SHORT ON CONVERSATION
THE GOODBYE – ON A PICKLE
One of us had to end it, and seeing as I was the only human being involved, it might as well have been me.
We didn’t want to make too much of it. We decided a pickle would be the appropriate sendoff. I told Sriracha that we would see each other again, after we each took some time to process. I said I had no interest in seeing other condiments seriously, but Sriracha encouraged me to get back out there when the time was right.
And just before I definitively bit into my spear, I heard Sriracha whisper something, soft and spicily. It could have been a half-hallucinated, self-manifested wish-fulfillment caused by some sort of condiment overdose, but that scenario doesn’t seem nearly as likely. If what I heard Sriracha say is true, then it is a truth worth sharing:
“You are what you eat.”
I have thought on those parting words often in the past few days. If Sriracha did, in fact, love me, in the way that I grew to love Sriracha… then I have in essence eaten…love. And if I’ve eaten love, so must I be love, if what I eat is also what I am.
I ate Sriracha, and Sriracha is love, and I am what I eat.
I implore you, Dear Reader, to do yourself this favor: Purchase the Man Crates Sriracha Crate yourself, and be the love that you seek in the world. May the experience change your life as it did mine.