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  • lukeathompson

REVIEW - Trodden Black - Sea Buckthorn & Habanero

This is a special sauce. It’s bright orange and a good consistency, with flakes of what I think are seaweed, and it smells unlike any other I’ve tried. The flavour is overwhelmingly Sea Buckthorn, which in terms of taste is quite striking - tart and tangy and fruity, with something like orange or tangerine zest, and the sauce holds a good Habanero heat. I love this. It’s one of those sauces you want to eat by the tablespoon.


There’s a bit going on with the design here. Looking at the company’s website they have a horrible tagline: ‘Trodden Black: Deadly Preserves / Chilli Death Jam / Dead Hot Sauce’. Deadly, death, dead. I’m going to keep calling this, especially when such an interesting, sharp sauce is being infantilised with the branding.

Beyond that, the label is more interesting, showing another hot sauce design trope: psychedelics. The typography especially. The skull image has a more contemporary comic art aesthetic, which is fine and done quite well, but the typography is classic 1960s psychedelic - the kind of wobbly type made iconic by folk like Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse and Bonnie Maclean on posters and album cover from the era.


It's another curious connection for the hot pepper. I’ve already mentioned the biker aesthetic in hot pepper/sauce cultures, and the biker aesthetic and psychedelic aesthetic are pop culture contemporaries, psychedelic type emerging on posters and album covers in the 1960s alongside the popular prominence of motorcycle clubs in movies like Easy Rider and Hunter S Thompson’s book Hell’s Angels. Two separate aesthetics from the 1960s associated with distinct (even opposing) cultures.


The connection or attraction to both cultures might simply be about ingesting something that causes an extreme physical response. A macho gesture for one, a high for another, an extreme experience for both. The high comes as the capsaicinoids in the hot pepper trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine. In the recent TV series on hot peppers, Superhot, a good deal was made of the connection between superhot pepper lovers and addiction.


Or it might be generational, many of the more influential figures in hot pepper and hot sauce production today being born around the 1960s. Certainly some of the most recognisable figures in the superhot world are from that era, including Johnny Scoville, Ed Currie and Chili Klaus.


But back to the sauce. This is stunning. A lot of my favourites have been Habanero with peach or mango or something sweet. They’re terrific pairings but you’ll they’re quite a popular style, especially the mango, and you’ll find a lot of them. I’ve not seen Habanero with Sea Buckthorn and seaweed before and I love it. Moreover, the tart orange berries of Sea Buckthorn are stuffed with Vitamin C and some are calling it a superfood.


This sauce has a heat you feel but it’s not painful. Like the Peppapot, however, I want to eat this in substantial quantities and that’s when you notice the Habanero...


£7.50 per 150ml / £50 per litre

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