You Go Ahead, I'll Ketchup

When it comes to condiments, one stands out on the American landscape.

     Good morning and greetings, prom night fans. As you know, I like to report on the important news stories and trends of the day. Last week, I wrote about the dynamic duo of milk and cookies, a subject I am quite familiar with due to my ongoing research and subsequent weight gains. As Jenny Craig’s nutritionist once told me, “I try to keep losing weight, but it keeps finding me. But I often think back to the words of Drew Barrymore who once said, “I’d rather be a few pounds heavier and enjoy life.”

     So while we’re on that subject, here’s a couple of helpful tips from a Mr. Larry Wentz when it comes to weight loss. Only eat food that you can catch and kill with a toothpick and even better, weigh yourself with only one foot on the scale. Or as Julia Child told Richard Simmons, “The only time I eat diet food is when I’m waiting for a steak to cook.”

     Well, speaking of meating and greeting, as part of my vegan diet that includes beef, poultry and fish, I like to dine on the occasional cheeseburger and fries. It’s not so much that I enjoy the taste of these two American food staples, it more like a colonic cleansing of my digestive system. And what condiment goes hand-in-mouth with these two delectable dishes? Our friend, the Duke of Ketchup.

     According to Piper Weiss of yahoo.com, an estimated 97 percent of American households have a bottle of ketchup or vodka in their refrigerators at this moment. If you’re like me, and that’s saying something, you prefer Heinz’ original recipe, which consists of tomatoes, vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder and some other “natural flavorings” the company and the Defense Department isn’t required to list.

     But before Heinz, ketchup, sweet and sour sauce, black bean sauce, apple sauce, Santa Claus or even catsup, there was katchop. Many believe the name is derived from the word koechiap or ke-tsiap, which comes from the Amoy dialect of China. Roughly translated, these words mean the brine of shell fish and yes, you can super size those fries. This Chinese condiment, from which our can’t live without burger, hot dog and french fry topping originated, was nothing more than shellfish brine, not the red devil that we lather on like shaving cream.

     But hold on to your golden arches, as this mixture of tiny sea creatures, soaked for days in pickling vinegar and the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices, was the basis for the delectable dip we know, love and worship today.

     When British explorers caught wind of it in Singapore in the 1700s, they brought it back to their own Western European kitchens along with a large order to go of chow fun, lo mein and cream cheese filled won tons. The result was the first ketchup recipe, a mixture of vinegar, gene shallots, spices, horseradish, anchovies, paulie walnuts, mushrooms, kidney beans alongside a boatload of napkins.

     The first English recipe on record, published in a 1727 cookbook, called for 12 to 14 anchovies and zero tomatoes. We’re not talking about that sweet and tangy sauce made from pureed tomatoes. It was really more of a fish recipe than a condiment, but without the Food Channel, who knew?

     Ketchup made from pickled oyster juice was another early popular dipping sauce, something I wouldn’t even serve to the Taliban. Other early versions of ketchup had flavors like blueberries, lemon, grape, watermelon and strawberry mango. It wasn’t until the 1820′s that tomatoes got involved in the mix, as Heinz brought the bottled version to homes and Burger King in the 1870s.

     But let us not forget that Heinz also introduced ‘funky purple’ and ‘blastin’ green’ EZ Squirts ketchup, along with pink, orange, teal and blue versions of America’s favorite condiment. I don’t know about you, but I like my ketchup red, the same color as my high school gang, the Anderson Avenue Bloods.

     Due to a tomato shortage during World War II, Filipinos began making ketchup out of the abundant banana crop, yielding a much sweeter brownish yellow sauce which was then dyed red. Filipinos liked banana ketchup so much that it has outsold tomato ketchup ever since and the Abu Sayyaf Terrorist Group swears they would never consider kidnapping helpless tourists and holding them for ransom without it.

     Here are a couple more fun facts. The French, who have made surrendering an art, recently banned ketchup in many schools to discourage obsessive dipping and in particular, double dipping. Ketchup is similar to wine in that there are good and bad ketchup years depending on the tomato harvest. I can remember back in the early days when my wife and I were first dating, we would go out to West Cliff at dusk and open a bottle of ketchup and watch the sunset.

     And finally, let’s finish this segment off with a joke that has nothing to do with ketchup. A penguin walked into a bar and said, “Has my father been in here today?” The bartender said, “”I don’t know, what does he look like?” The penguin said, “He was wearing a tuxedo.”

     For today’s photo discourse, we are once again heading up the North Coast to Hole-In-The-Wall Beach and Panther Beach. If you are wondering where the first name came from, check out photo #3. The natural beauty of these beaches is as stunning as my modeling portfolio, and colors of the limestone cliffs (photo #4) are nothing short of spectacular. And as a bonus, the waves were booming the whole time while my daughter and I were there, creating a show of spray (photo #6) that was well worth the price of free admission.

     To check out these photos, click on http://www.SunriseSantaCruz.com/blog

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael A. Lewis May 27, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I visited a ketchup procesing plant in Iowa once. Haven't eaten ketchup since.


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