Mr. Salsa

The story behind Pace Picante Sauce.

Pace Picante Sauce, that supermarket staple, was the first salsa I ever ate, an experience that puts me in league with millions of Americans. These days, you can find all sorts of fresh and jarred salsas almost anywhere in the country, but back in 1947, when Louisiana native David E. Pace concocted his condiment in the rented backroom of a liquor store in San Antonio, Texas, that wasn't the situation. His simple mix of cooked tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, garlic, and vinegar, which he originally dubbed Pace Picante Spanish Hot Sauce, came as a discovery for many home cooks unfamiliar with Tex-Mex cuisine. I still use Pace Picante as a dip for tortilla chips and, in a pinch, as a quick sauce for enchiladas or to brighten the flavor and enhance the color of a beef stew.