I heard on the radio today that Homeboy Industries were expanding one of their business ventures with a line of salsas and tortilla chips that you can now purchase at Ralph’s stores across Southern California. Yeah, everyone supports Homeboy Industries and their good intentions, but how are the salsas and chips? Well I got a chance to try some out!
I was walking along, minding my own business, when this truck pulled up ahead of me. Maybe they’ll be giving out samples? Yes they were.
My free lil’ brown bag of chips and salsa. Plus I can reuse it to hide my beer. Score! They also gave me a flier, I guess I’ll read it. Their motto is “Nothing Stops A Bullet Like A Job”. When I was a teenager I went to see if they could help me find a job, but they gave me some line about why I didn’t qualify, basically being poor and unemployed wasn’t on their agenda, you had to be a knucklehead causing trouble with the neighbors as well. I was pissed for many years. But fair enough, they can’t help everyone and I understand now what they aim to do. Besides, those few years of extra-legal, uh, “work” where I determined my own wages were pretty memorable. Ahh, the good old days.
(One day I’ll tell you about getting a job via the unemployment office, where I distributed propaganda for the Republican Party as a minimum wage postal carrier for two days and didn’t get paid shit: now those fuckers I will never forgive.)
But back to the salsas and chips. I looked through the options. Pico de Gallo? That needs to be had fresh, so pass. Some mango salsa? Uh, no. Ok, salsa verde seems reasonable enough, let me have one of those. It looks like your standard commercially made salsa verde aka tomatillo sauce. The chips looked awfully familiar as well, like from one of those big name brands you get at the supermarket. Dip and taste.
Yup, seems very familiar, they look AND taste like commercially made products, like re-branded products. The salsa is what you would expect, a blend of tomatillos, cilantro, cebolla, and presumably some chiles in a mixture that is well balanced. Not gelatinous like fresh tomatillos are want to do. Nor too watery as if you’ve won the fight against the gel. It’s just right, the way you expect a salsa from the market to act. The chips have that really pale look of mass manufacturing and are dusted with a heavy hand of salt as well. They are nowhere as good as La Fortaleza chips. I get the feeling Homeboy Industries just worked out a plan by which they can lend their name to some already available item. I don’t blame them, they do need the money. But it’s not a product I need on my dinner table.
In other words, its decent enough for taking to an office party. But don’t feed it to your children on a regular basis.
I should probably speculate now that I’m not the intended consumer anyways, as I don’t usually buy pre-made salsas. The main reason you’d want to buy HI salsas and chips is to support their mission. If you are going to buy a mass-manufactured salsa then Homeboy is the way to go, you get some charity work done and you’ll feel better about yourself knowing some of that money went to a worthy cause.
But if you want to make something better and save lots of money (which you can, of course, contribute later to Homeboy) here’s a better idea:
Boil 5-6 tomatillos, 2-4 serrano chiles, half a white onion, a clove or two of garlic, in some water for about 5-7 minutes. Blend the ingredients and some fresh cilantro (or pulse them in a processor depending on how you want the texture) with a tad of the boiling water, depending on how thin you want the sauce. Add salt as needed.