Tongue Toasters

By / Photography By Barry Jarvis | December 12, 2016
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It’s hot, hotter, hottest at Owasso’s Fire ’N the Hole

“As early as 1882,” writes Adrian Miller, the author of Soul Food, “pharmacists in the United States were prescribing a gargle of hot sauce to cure mouth, throat and digestive ailments,” [1] and concoctions of chilies, vinegar and salt that would look rather familiar to us today were observed being whipped up for medicinal purposes in Jamaica as early as 1700.

It took a long and unusual road for them to reach a level of culinary respectability. According to Miller, using such hot sauces to season food was considered vulgar throughout the 19th century, and their most common usage was as anesthetics, to relieve pain. (A midcentury cholera epidemic throughout the Lower Mississippi Basin inspired the development of the Tabasco brand, a Louisiana creation, in 1868.)

Of course, this was more than 150 years ago. Today, hot sauces are not only the exclusive property of our kitchens, they’re more in demand than ever—and we’ve come a long way since Tabasco, baby. Fire ’N the Hole, a specialty spice and hot sauce shop of some distinction, has been operating in Owasso for the past five years. Sauceheads rejoice, for on these suburban grounds at 126 S. Main St., between the sub shop and the pharmacy, you will find the only store in Oklahoma that caters to your specific spice needs. But don’t let the name fool you into thinking this is a spot strictly for those whose favorite flavors reside at the far end of the Scoville scale. As a matter of fact, they have products for everybody— when it comes to the store’s overall selection, it’s about flavor over fire. It’s easier to list what this selection doesn’t include than what it does. On a typical visit to Fire ’N the Hole, you’ll be met with walls of salsa, dry rubs, competition rubs, hot jellies and 400 different hot sauces, including 15 specifically for wings, including the famous Anchor Bar Wing Sauce out of Buffalo, New York—all but unavailable anywhere else in the state. “Ninety-five percent of what we carry you will not find in a grocery store,” says Kathy Miller, the shop’s steward and sole staffer, who owns the store with her husband, Joe. “Once one of those big-box stores picks them up, we try to delete them, because we cannot, will not and do not want to compete with the big-box store.” As a result, the stock at Fire ’N the Hole is delightfully off-the-wall, the sort of things too outside the bounds of the typical shopper’s palate for grocers to stock anywhere else. This includes coffee, Bloody Mary mixes, nuts, popcorn, dips and many products made locally in Oklahoma, including some in-house sauces that bear the Fire ’N the Hole brand.

Article from Edible Tulsa at
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