Firefox has a first page feature called Pocket that offers a bunch of different possibilities to snare the procrastinating internet user. Most of those (over the long haul) involve advice: clothes, home decorating, cooking foods/diet, fitness, health, etc. Many of these Pocket advice articles start with or include a number: the five best (vacation spots, brands of work boots, ways to save on something), the seven causes of (success/failure/a bad health outcome/a good health outcome), the three worst (choices in foods, habits, mistakes in child rearing), etc.
Many suggestions are to paywalled publications, like this one:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/what-s-the-best-jarred-salsa-for-your-next-party-we-tasted-and-ranked-14-top-brands?utm_source=pocket-newtab from the Washington Post, illustrated with a stack of salsa jars.
Once it was the best way to make “perfect” scrambled eggs, which is one of the silliest EVER ideas for an article…scrambled eggs being one of the easiest things to make, and customize in the whole cook book. There is no perfect scrambled egg; people like them different ways. My mother liked softer scrambled eggs; I prefer them quite firm. Some want them beaten up with a little water; others want milk; others (including me) don’t want anything in scrambled eggs but eggs.
But salsa…yes, there are good salsas and “I wouldn’t buy that if it were free” salsas (me personally, that is) and though I’ve made my own (out of chile piquins, home-grown tomatoes, home-grown onions, onions, a touch of this and that) and eaten others’ homemade salsas at restaurants where they make their own, and eaten (with greater or lesser enjoyment) multiple commercially made salsas from jars…I have a few trenchant questions for anyone “tasting and ranking 14 top brands.”
To start with, Why do you think you’re qualified to rank salsas? Where did you grow up? If you didn’t grow up in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California…or did not grow up in a house eating Mexican food cooked from scratch by someone who’d learned it early, go sit down. (If from elsewhere in Latin America, you can convince me with an ingredients list. I’ve seen things called salsa supposedly from South America that…no…aren’t salsa to me.)
How much salsa have you eaten over how many years, and in how many different foods? I’m over 75 and have been eating salsa…um…somewhere between 65 and 70 years, more regularly since returning to Texas after a stretch in Virginia (lots of good food in Virginia, but not, when I was there, good chili, let alone salsa. I used to put a big spoonful of Louisiana Hot Sauce (all they had) in a bowl of Virginia chili to get it to warm my mouth, besides it being made out of hamburger meat and not range beef in chunks or slices and cooked at least 8 hours until it was so thick a cooking spoon would stand up in it.
Did your mother or abuela make salsa? Which kind? With what in it? (Growing up eating Mexican food daily or near-daily qualifies for full certification as a judge of salsa, as long as some of it was homemade or house-made in a small restaurant/cafe.) Bonus points for that quirky salsa that someone in the family made with an ingredient someone else complained about..
Have you ever made your own salsa from scratch? Who did you learn from? With what ingredients in it? How much of what was in it did you grow yourself? What did people used to good authentic salsa think of your salsa (not the first, but when you got better at it.) Could you get a note of recommendation from those people about your salsa? Bonus points for making both salsa roja and salsa verde. Confession: I’ve never made salsa verde because we never grew tomatillos. We did grow all our own peppers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro when we had the big garden.
Note: there is not just one single acceptable recipe or flavor…but there is a range beyond which calling it salsa is heresy. Catsup with a few [or many] drops of Tabasco Sauce is not salsa! Salsa is a common food, not a delicate pampered special-something only for special occasions. Salsa roja, the red kind, is used on, and in, many recipes, and can be made with whatever tomatoes you can get, whatever onions, whatever hot peppers suit your insides, from barely-hot to “removes all the mucus membranes from your mouth and everything south, while torching your sinuses clean on the way.” (When I make chili this fiery, it’s called “therapeutic chili” in our house and burns out any cold or flu germs in said mucus membranes…you feel a lot better once it’s all gone, which doesn’t take long. We don’t discuss all the details.) Printed recipes mention jalapeno, ancho, and serrano peppers…if you make it with chile pequins, you’re toward the hotter end of the spectrum. It takes a lot of tomatoes, onions, etc. to calm down 2 cups of fully ripe chile pequins hit with the blender. But oh-my-goodness the flavor!!
We use salsa on eggs, burritos, meat dishes, sandwiches (yes, peanut butter with a little salsa is delicious), mix it with beans, and sometimes with other vegetables, and add it to salads built around cottage cheese (chopped chicken or shrimp in cottage cheese with diced celery and a big glob of salsa roja.) And these days I use commercial salsa all the time, because of the difficulty of growing a good garden when we have water shortages and hard limits on water use and the soil temp gets so hot the tomatoes won’t set.
Washington Post being a paywall source, I haven’t read the article, and thus won’t get a chance to judge the salsa raters, but I’ve had fun thinking about salsas I’ve liked and even those I haven’t. My tastes in salsa vary with the season and what I’m eating and how my gut is behaving any given day. Find one you like and use it in ways you haven’t yet…and then try making some that suits your taste buds and heat tolerance exactly.