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Okay, so everyone has a favorite spice or secret ingredient; mine is Tabasco Sauce, made here at Avery Island in New Iberia, Louisiana.

The island, which is more a salt dome near Vermilion Bay, is a beautiful place and one with a long history. Native Americans mined salt there and traded it throughout the continent, it was a major source of salt for the Confederate troops during the Civil War, and it is now home to Tabasco plants, a collection of rare plants, and a bird sanctuary.

This particular pepper sauce comes to mind, not because of the shortages of all those impostors, but because it was discussed in a comment string yesterday and got me thinking that although we in Louisiana rank last in almost all indications of well-being, educational excellence, and sanity, we do have one absolutely wonderful additive (I'm not talking chicory here) for almost any dish.

I wanted to start with this, because next Friday we are going to discuss Hog's Head Cheese and Blood Sausage--two delicacies of this area that too few people get to try. And not just because one of them has been outlawed and the other's ingredients make Aborigines long for the simplicity of grubs.

So, do you have a secret ingredient or spice that you hold back when sharing recipes? Or one you use just to add that extra something to the pot?

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