California Humanities-supported Community Stories project, LA Heat: Mouth Altering Condiments—Artworks, which explores the impact of Sriracha and Tapatio in Los Angeles, recently opened its exhibit to a record-setting crowd on March 13 at the Chinese American Museum (CAM). The CEOs of the companies that produce the sauces, David Tran of Huy Fong Foods, the makers of Sriracha, and Jose-Luis Saavedra of Tapatio foods, which produces Tapatio, were both in attendance at the opening, which has drawn widespread media attention, including from the L.A. Times and Huffington Post. The exhibit will run through July 12.
Sriracha and Tapatio hot sauces, two popular LA condiments, manifest the changing nature of American culture and cuisine. These two hot sauces, the products of two LA-based immigrant entrepreneurs, rose to popularity due to their broad cross-cultural appeal, and the regard for these condiments also suggests an increase in awareness and broader acceptance of the different cultural influences on the American food palette.
The exhibit includes excerpts of oral histories, curated selection of artwork from established and emerging artists, and a series of public programs that explore food culture, foodways, and cultural identity. By exploring the use of condiments that have become part of larger mainstream culture, CAM hopes to foster cross-cultural understanding amongst people from different backgrounds.