The Fourth of July is the perfect egalitarian holiday. Everyone is invited, and you don't have to bring a gift, dress up or sing any particular songs. It happens in summer when the weather is beautiful, there's nothing religious about it, you're not compelled to be with family to celebrate unless you want to, and it all culminates with free fireworks. Pretty. On top of all that, the food is grilled and therefore open to any and all interpretations. Come one, come all.
If you've got all that down, but still need inspiration, we have five condiments, presented in no particular order, that are perfect to slather on your burgers, dogs and steaks this year. Bring your own flair. That's part of what being American is all about, right? Right. Now it's time to celebrate.
5. Let's Be Frank Devil Sauce:
Your hot dogs are grass-fed and your plates are biodegradable, so your hot sauce should be organic and use California-grown peppers. Let's Be Frank Devil Sauce fits the bill. The thin sauce has a flavor profile that leans on North African-inspired spices and a little bit of heat. We love it as it is intended; with hot dogs, but also on a burger or added to coleslaw.
The people of Argentina eat more beef than most other nations. Depending on what study you look at, they are either the world's largest consumers or second to Denmark (which seems shocking -- how are the Danes eating it? Smørrebrød? With smoked pine needles? Hmm.) Argentines grill their world-class beef and serve it with chimichurri -- a blend of oregano, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, chiles and olive oil. The sauce is simple enough to make, but if you're not inclined, you can also buy it premade at the Empanada Factory.
3. Gindo's Spice of Life:
If you've had the fried chicken sandwich at ink.sack, you've had Gindo's Spice of Life. Possibly the most name-dropped condiment of the year, Gindo's -- a creation of local bartender and all-around well-connected guy Chris Ginder -- is made with habaneros and packs a serious punch. Developed as wing sauce, we really can't limit it to just chicken since it goes pretty well with most anything needing heat. Including Bloody Mary's. Use enough and you'll see your own fireworks.
Thanks to Roy Choi, adding kimchi to a burger isn't all that new, but it is delicious and it does adds a special funk. Chop the stuff up and go for it. Plus, kimchi is healthy, so it balances out all that beer and fat you'll be consuming. There are a zillion places to buy it, but we like the pickle bar at Han Kook Supermarket.
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This is a neon-red pepper, eggplant and garlic relish from Croatia. It's sweeter than it is spicy, and not exactly smooth, but it tries to be. Whatever it is, it's addictively good on everything. There's a private-labeled version at Trader Joe's but it's half the price at any Middle Eastern market, like Elat on Pico in West L.A.
If you do end up trying one of these, we'd love to see pictures. You can upload them and all your food-related holiday pictures to our Flickr page. And have a happy, safe holiday.
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