Sean Carey aka S. Carey - solo star and regular Bon Iver collaborator - writes for Best Fit on his hunt across the US for the perfect avocado salsa.
I have an obsession with salsa. Not the music, the sauce. There’s one salsa in particular that has pulled me in by the antlers - the “avocado” salsa at my local taqueria in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Yes… we have taquerias here. It's so fucking good. Its smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of spice and acid. It’s probably a simple recipe but I can’t quite pinpoint it. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to recreate it at home. I’ve chatted up chefs about it, sparked several text chains with my buddies, scoured the internet for ideas; I’ve even thought about disguising myself and applying to be a busboy.
The locality and geography of food is fascinating. What I find so interesting is that each little taqueria has its own unique homemade salsas. At least from my experience, they are secretive about their recipes and they’ve probably been passed down from generation to generation. I’ve asked the servers at the taqueria “what’s in that salsa?” - they just play dumb.
As you can imagine, there is an unlimited amount of flavor combinations. I’ve tried many. My blender gets put through the ringer. My wife is sick of having tacos for dinner. My kids’ spice tolerance has elevated. Of my several attempts at cracking the code, this one was the closest:
1 Roasted Poblano Pepper
1/4 Cup Corn Oil
1/4 Cup Pickled Jalapeño Juice
2 Tbsp Water
Salt to taste
Well, what does is this have to do with music? I dunno. In many ways, trying to figure out this damn recipe is like trying finish a record. A little more texture here, a short breath here, maybe cut that intro - keep it short and sweet, make that part more felt than heard, and on and on and on.
Lately (in both endeavors) I’ve been trying to simplify - whittle it down to just a few ingredients. On my new record, Hundred Acres, I tried to put more emphasis on the song writing process before going into the studio. The elements of song writing are simple, yet extremely difficult to pull off with depth, nuance, and honesty. Like a good sauce, it all starts with a solid base.
I’m closer than ever on cracking the recipe code, but part of me realizes it will never be exactly the same. At some point, I have to accept that my salsa will just be my salsa, but it’ll be damn good.