A pair of California-made hot sauces is the main course of a “spicy” exhibition that opened last week in Los Angeles. “L.A. Heat” explores the culinary and pop culture impact of Sriracha and Tapatio — two “hot-to-handle” condiments with very different origins that somehow managed to be a unifying ingredient in LA culture and cuisine.
For some the appeal starts with the bottle: Tapatio and its tapered glass body, slim neck and red cap; Sriracha, its chubbier relative made of soft, squishy plastic with simple eye-catching graphics splashed across its belly.
Wong handpicked 30 artists to submit pieces for “L.A. Heat.” Graffiti artist-turned-designer Sket One appropriated Sriracha’s multilingual design scheme and white rooster emblem for “Sketinguish 1-2-3,” three fire extinguishers stripped and repainted, each one now representing a different color of the Mexican flag and festooned with Sriracha-inspired graphics. The spicy condiment metaphorically becomes the hot sauce that can put itself out.
“It’s something that spans cultures, and spans age groups and spans everything,” says artist Sket One of the hot sauces’ appeal. He says Sriracha and Tapatio have actually become like global culinary ambassadors.
“It’s kind of what we hope for with world peace,” he laughs.
“You know, maybe Sriracha will bring world peace!”