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Louis Fowler vs. The Pioneer Woman: A Tale of Two Pico de Gallos

With Ree having won the last couple of fried, creamy, gritty battles against me, I called in a special chef with a cerebro as big as his corazon, Mr. Danny Trejo. I knew he would not let me down…right?

But I needed recipes that would be of the same name, the same ilk, the same spicy tradition, but with enough of a different taste—somewhat—that it could be fairly judged by an outside party. I gathered up the quintessential items needed for these side-by-side salsas, as well as the very few ingredients needed to make them different enough from each other.

With my heart afire, I started with the pico of the true first lady of Oklahoma, Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. After slicing them into somewhat smaller bits, the tomatoes, red and purple onions, diced cilantro and the asphyxiated peppers—their insides cut out, leaving only the thin outsides—they were mixed in a bowl, almost ready to taste.

Per her request, I added a bit of plain salt to the mixture. After a moment’s stirring, I put a chip down into the requisite bowl, ready to taste the sublime salsa; while it did have a piercing bite of onions and cilantro, it was the peppers that weren’t that hot, making the salsa the right oral temperature for your grandmothers, a group of wild women that I’m sure Drummond does drum for.

But, if I’m being honest, that’s not who I’m looking to impress, at least not today. For my secret serving of pico de gallo, I needed someone that can cut through the tepid taste with a mean machete…I needed Danny Trejo and his cookbook, Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes and Stories from L.A., released earlier this year.

Following much of the same directions—at a full two pages in the Pioneer Woman’s compared to a quarter of a sheet in Trejo’s—I mixed down the chopped up tomatoes, red and white onions, cilantro and, of course, peppers that were mostly of the same ilk but with their insides left intact—to hopefully give me all the heat I needed in this salsa competition.

Per his request, I added a bit of kosher salt to the proceedings, as well as a spoon or two of pure olive oil, which is truly all this pico needs to become puro in your mouth. The stirring finished, I effortlessly spun a chip into this truly Mexican mess, brining up a steaming red and green chip in this total dead-heat. This is the perfect salsa for the rest of us.

I called my ladyfriend over to taste it, feeding her chips as well as empty promises about how her choice is the deciding factor in this battle to the Imodium death—for me, at least—as to who has the best pico de gallo in town. As she took her chip laden with the competing sauces, a quizzical look came across her face; she tried to take it again, and then a third time.

After a long, puzzling look, she chose the Pioneer Woman’s.

And even though, when I told her that she picked Ms. Drummond’s salsa, she tried her sweetest to rebuke the white woman’s plague against the lightly colored man, but I knew it was no use. Even here, in this game, in this state, in this kitchen, the Pioneer Woman will continue to reign supreme against all comers.

Until next time, P.W.

Pioneer Woman 3, Louis Fowler (with help from Danny Trejo) 0.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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