My refrigerator houses an array of condiments from places near and far, suitable for many cuisines. I tend to buy bottles of random things when snooping about a food market in a neighborhood (or country) I’ve not visited in some time. Mostly these bottles collect dust, the inner goop too obscure for me to make the effort to combine it with its proper mates (though an occasional weekend cooking project will have me rooting through the cupboards).
In principle, I don’t consider chili paste one of these obscure condiments. After all, many cuisines have multiple condiments made of chiles that are critical to their dishes. But until lately, the pastes I’ve picked up along the way remained the wallflower at the prom — I see them there, they look pretty, but I’m afraid to approach them.