Condiments

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I like my condiments just as much as the next guy. I never met a mustard that I haven't been able to find some use for. Real mayonnaise adds creaminess and depth and hot sauces like sriracha or cholula provide balance and heat. There is, however, one condiment, immensely popular, that I simply don't get – ketchup. Now, I don't dislike ketchup. It has its place, I suppose, but as far as I am concerned its place is very limited. Some people smother french fries, some people pour it on scrambled eggs and some people even put it on hot dogs! Not me. As far as I'm concerned, ketchup has only two uses. The first is on a cheeseburger with mustard, lettuce and tomato and the other is as a base for cocktail sauce.

Now, I'm no food despot, so if you, my reader, happen to like ketchup on anything and everything, I have no desire to stop you. Pour away! I don't get it, but then so what? I enjoy and go out of my way for plenty of foods that other people scratch their heads at, but that is what makes food so much fun and makes it so difficult to calibrate one's culinary opinions to another's. It is impossible, or nearly so, for any two people to have perfectly matched palates, but that isn't really important. While I am not a huge fan of ketchup, my wife and each of my children are. Despite that, our tastes generally align when it comes to food (thank goodness!).

What is important, is having an open mind and tolerance for others tastes. Of course, if palates are totally out of sync, those individuals may not get along very well if food is the least bit important to them. So long as the big picture of tolerance and values is present, the small details of individual food peccadilloes is unimportant. If my wife and kids adore ketchup and I don't, what does it matter?


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8 Responses to Condiments

  1. Andy Little says:

    John,
    I’m 100% with you re: ketchup. I’ll add one new wrinkle. I’m a huge proponent of ‘small batch’ production and make a ton of larder ingredients at the restaurant(including butter), but I think the one item that doesn’t translate to ‘small batch’ production is ketchup. I suppose that since Heinz ketchup is the condiment of choice for youngsters, we are hard wired to relate to that specific flavor profile even if it’s not perhaps the best representation of what a ketchup could be.
    Great post!

  2. danya says:

    Also agree. I don’t even use ketchup on burgers. Cocktail sauce base, yes. Otherwise, it all — even Heinz — tastes like overly sweet marinara to me.

  3. AJ says:

    A fine parable doc…

  4. Daniel B. says:

    If you are truly looking to “get” ketchup I highly recommend this article:
    http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_09_06_a_ketchup.html
    Hope you enjoy.

  5. Mr. Sunshine says:

    I wrote a lengthy comment that somehow never made it to you. The gist was that one year I had a huge crop of tomatoes and made, inter alia, ketchup. It was a revelation, full of spices taking it back to its Malysian roots; very unlike Heinz.

  6. John Sconzo says:

    The problem with ketchup that isnt Heinz or one just like it is that it truly is something different and potentially shocking to someone who has come to expect a very specific flavor and consistency. I bought a bottle of June Taylor ketchup at Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco once. It was tasty, but no one in my family really liked it for what they used Heinz for. Since I dont really care for ketchup, that didnt bother me. Unfortunately, I wasnt really crazy about her ketchup either. I would imagine that other home made or artisanal ketchups would be hit or miss with me, some I might like more or less than others. My ambivalence towards this particular condiment baffles me a little since I love tomatoes and tomato sauces generally. I suspect, though, Mr. Sunshine that your ketchup, rooted in Malaysia, would be quite interesting. How difficult was it to make?

  7. Mr. Sunshine says:

    Very time-consuming but not technically difficult at all.

  8. JD says:

    Your condiments look good, except for one much need thing: Kewpie Mayonnaise.

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