Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 3.1.19
Stanstead, Quebec


Hello, hot sauce, my old friend

It's not like we haven't cleaned the fridge in 20 years. We changed refrigerators at some point in there, so that mean's it's been sorted through at least once. No, I'm quite certain that our refrigerator has undergone frequent if unscheduled cleanings and/or purges.

And it's not like I didn't know the bottle was there. Why, just the other day I was describing it to a student at school. I don't recall how the subject came up -- something about long-standing items in one's fridge -- but it quickly became uncomfortable when I found myself saying that I distinctly remembered the bottle because it had a ... naughty label.

"A what?" the student asked.

"A naughty label. It has a naughty picture on it." Somehow saying "naughty" to a teenager had become worse that saying what was actually on the label: boobs.

Let me back up -- 20-plus years ago.

I owned The Stanstead Journal with my partner Greg. Returning from a trip, Greg bought with him several varieties of hot sauces, all with provocative labels and names. These would become the subject of one of his food columns, but in the meantime he encouraged me to take my pick. I, of course, opted for the interactive bottle, and by "interactive" I mean the one whose label depicted woman with a bikini top made out of that silvery scratch-off material found on discount cards.

I immediately scratched it off. I was much more immature in those days... in my 30s.

Now, before you think I've been hanging on to a slim bottle of hot sauce for 20 years because of a pair of cartoon breasts, I need to point out that the sauce itself was quite good. "Ultimate Burn," it was called. "This Brazen Lady has no cholesterol and zero calories," the label gushed. "Prepare to strip as the heat goes up." Oh my. "Your endorphins will flow freely, while your senses bask in the fire of pure, unadulterated tropical pleasure."

(As a side note, I'd like to say how impressed I am that there is not a single exclamation mark in that copy. You wouldn't think a bottle with boobs would be capable of such restraint.)

The thing with hot sauce (especially really hot sauce) is you don't use a lot of it, particularly when you tend to accumulate many varieties of hot sauces over the years because, really, can you have too many hot sauces?

The other thing about not sauce is you don't have to worry about it. Hot sauces last virtually forever. Growing up, we had a bottle of Tabasco sauce that may have actually been one of my parents' wedding gifts. It had long gone from red to a shade of murky brown, yet was still delicious when we plopped a dash in our fancy glasses of tomato juice at Christmas dinner because we were classy like that.

But according to, Tabasco is good for years and won't, in fact, go bad. It just might misbehave a little.

And so I felt pretty confident that our bottle of Ultimate Burn was perfectly fine for the many years that it survived in our fridge. While I can't remember the last time we used it, I don't remember anyone suffering gastric distress. (Talk about "ultimate burn.")

But let's get back to the boobs (as one tends to do).

It was (I realize now in my much more mature fifties) a bit tacky to have a naked-lady bottle in the fridge, although I'd like to point out that the fridge is not solely my domain. Anyone could have removed it. In fact, now that I think of it, how often did our young children say to their friends, "Hey. Want to see something cool in the fridge? And I don't mean yogourt." Were they learning all the wrong things about body image? Worse, were they standing with the fridge wide open?

So last Sunday, I threw it out. And not just Ultimate Burn but a bottle of homemade "Dr. Hippy's Hot Sauce," which was much younger (maybe five years old?) but had clearly separated into its three basic components: solids, liquids and pathogens.

But why now? Why did I finally decide it was time to let my brazen hot sauce go?

Because by the time I get around to cleaning it again, I might have grandchildren, and I don't want them seeing that!