Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 31, 2010

Jalapeños and Pickpeppa sauce for New Year’s

I have an awful lot of good memories from my years of living in Texas, and food ranks heavily among them. I still dream about the thick flour tortillas from Herrera’s restaurant in Dallas, the pork spareribs from the Salt Lick in Llano, and the sour cream and tomatillo enchildas from Mi Tierra in San Antonio. Just thinking about real Texas nachos makes me want to get on a plane to Austin this very second.

All these years later, I continue to marvel at the the fact during the time that I lived there — in the mid to late 1970s — you could get a hefty traffic ticket from from the Texas Department of Public Safety if you were one damn second late on renewing your automobile permit, but legally you could roar down the freeways with an open bottle of beer and a hearty thirst.

The law permitting the ability to drink and drive has changed since I lived in the Lone Star state, and I would imagine that the number of traffic accidents has reduced considerably since that time.

It is no exaggeration to say that life would not be the same for me today if I had not been introduced to two items while living in Texas. One of these was jalapeño peppers, which today are commonly used by California chefs in every kind of restaurant.

During my time in Texas, I became such a freak for pickled jalapeños that a friend of mine eventually gifted me a glass gallon canning jar labeled “JALAPEÑOS” in three-inch black letters. I’ve still got the jar, although my consumption of pickled jalapeños has declined, due to age and the more finicky digestive system that goes with it.

Even in my late twenties, there was a price to be paid for eating way too many jalapeños at dinner. “Like a blowtorch,” said an old Texas newspaper editor less-than-delicately about the subsequent painful trips to the bathroom the next day.

And on that note, I’ll move on to another Texas food revelation that I still cherish: the spicy Pickapeppa Sauce. If your local market carries it, Pickapeppa is found in the pickles/salad dressing part of the store, usually near the Worcestershire sauce, which it vaguely resembles. Invariably, it will be located on the market’s highest shelf, because it is not a well-known condiment here. Because I am short, I always have to get a store employee to reach it for me.

I only know one use for this condiment, and it’s the world’s easiest appetizer. You simply pour Pickapeppa sauce over an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese, pair it with your favorite cracker (I like melba toast), and you are very, very, very good to go.

This recipe is similar to one using jalapeño jelly (another beloved foodstuff), which is jewel-like in appearance. But the humble brown Pickapeppa definitely competes in flavor.

I don’t need any kind of party looming on the horizon to inspire me to eat Pickapeppa and cream cheese on crackers. It pretty much falls into the same department as peanut butter and jelly for me. Before I was married, I probably had it for dinner at least twice a week.

And it’s very good with champagne.



  1. listening to the radio on the way to town this morning I heard- “life is like a jar of jalapenos- whatever you do today will bite you in the end tomorrow” When I stopped for coffee, they had a sign on the counter about free coffee for later tonight- and I immediately thought of you -Cassy- and what your take might be- “AH… for the WIDE AWAKE drunk” Enjoy your evening.

    • SO TRUE (on both counts)! Thanks for the laughs, Lisa. And Happy New Year!

  2. You made me miss Texas!
    All my family in the Dallas area…what in the heck am I doing in New England>

    • I loved living in Dallas.

      Console yourself when it warms up by going to Ogunquit and ordering yourself a 3-lb. lobster from Barnacle Billy’s, or Smoked Bluefish Paté from any Legal Seafood.

      I dream of these, too.

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