Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

June 20, 2013

Slices of Life: Pass the ketchup

We were out of ketchup – or catsup, depending on your preference. You say tuh-may-toe; I say tuh-mah-toe.

The word “ketchup” is sometimes associated with a particular brand. I buy lots of generic products, but not generic ketchup. When it comes to red condiments, my family practices purebred, pure-brand loyalty. At least we did.

Although ketchup is an American icon, the sauce originated in China in the 1600s. It was made with pickled fish and spices and didn’t even contain tomatoes; the ingredient was added when the condiment came to the United States sometime in the early 1800s. By 1837, a guy named Yerks had modified and commercialized the product and marketed it nationwide. The American love affair with ketchup had begun. For most of us.

Some people don’t like ketchup. They don’t live at my house. We love the stuff – high fructose corn syrup and all.

What’s not to like? Inside the bottle, you’ll find food flexibility at its finest. Depending on your culinary needs, you can use it as an ingredient (meatloaf) or condiment (cheeseburger). While the jury is still out on nutritional legitimacy, in some circles our tomato-based friend is considered a vegetable – even though tomatoes are technically fruits, but I’ve never been able to keep that one straight.

I’ve witnessed creative ketchup use in the kitchen and beyond. My son likes it with macaroni and cheese. I enjoy dill pickles dipped in ketchup. I even know one friend who pours the sauce on his pancakes. He seems to enjoy it. I say to each his own on that one. (Please pass the syrup.)

The red wonder is more than just food and can resemble pretend blood on Halloween or other festive occasions when one wants to fake significant injury. Ketchup can get rid of chlorine build-up on hair and shine tarnished metal (but not at the same time). I’ve also heard rumors it enhances the flavor of French fries, but that idea sounds a little extreme – sort of like putting ketchup on pancakes.

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