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Submitted in 2005


History of a Hot Sauce: The mysterious Origins of Wassabassco
R. Andrew Heidel and William Morton

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The story of the origin of Wasabassco is synonymous with the lineage of Kiki LeVeau

Our recipe, and Kiki's lineage, begins in Japan during the waning years of the Edo era when the Tokugawa Shogunate commissioned the Sushi Sensei to discover a wasabi hot enough for the emperor himself. After many years on his dangerous quest, the Sushi Sensei discovered a pure strain of Wasabia Japonica, growing in a fresh glacier fed stream on the perilous slopes of Mount Fuji. This was a wasabi more pungent and fitfully stronger than any yet tasted. When the Sushi Sensei returned he presented the wasabi to the emperor along with the choicest bit of sashimi Fugu (the deadly puffer fish). Upon tasting the delicacy, the emperor convulsed violently, fell out of his chair, and appeared dead to those about him. The Sushi Sensei was held at samurai sword point as the guards were convinced the emperor had been poisoned by the potentially deadly bit of the Fugu. However, this was not the case. The emperor regained consciousness after a few moments and exclaimed he had been granted a vision thanks to the potent wasabi. His vision depicted a beautiful woman wearing a strange red hat and a tiny green kimono. She carried with her a potent elixir that blissfully scorched the palette of gods and mortals alike. The emperor was pleased and bestowed the sensei with many honors and rewards. Thereafter the secret location of the Emperor's Wasabia Japonica was passed down from generation to generation, and would eventually pass into the hands of the Sushi Sensei's last remaining descendant, Kiki LeVeau.

But the story of the LeVeau family began at the turn of the 20th century in Wasabass, Colorado, when Silas Heidle, the 12-year-old orphaned son of a small town dressmaker, met "Colonel" Buford LeVeau, a traveling snake oil salesman who came to town. The Colonel introduced Wasabass to the exotic condiment "mustard," a delectably spicy concoction the colonel claimed came from a mystical island called "Coney" located in a faraway land called Breukelyn, somewhere beyond New York. Tired of bland midwestern cooking, and entranced by the salesman's tales of unknown taste sensations and the ports of New York. Silas's destiny was sealed and he resolved to leave Wasabass for a future ripe with adventure and flavor. After much pleading and deliberation, the Colonel allowed the boy to join him when he left, and Silas took on the surname of LeVeau from his newly adopted father.

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