Ok, two things about ketchup. My favorite thing that Malcolm Gladwell has ever written is “The Ketchup Conundrum,” in which he basically argues that Heinz is King because it has a supposedly ideal balance of sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami. I don’t happen to agree with that but no matter — the article is a fascinating exploration of what it takes to win over the American palate (Grey Poupon did it when naysayers claimed Americans wouldn’t eat anything but good ol’ yellow mustard).
Coming around to the second thing, as Tom says, below, ketchup is perhaps the only native American condiment and back in the day it had many iterations (it wasn’t even necessarily made with tomatoes). Four years ago, in honor of ketchup’s noble place in the history of American food, I held a Tomato Bee in my dad’s community garden and we made a vat of catsup loosely based on a recipe from 1871 (right there in the garden!). We then made three flavored ketchups: white and red balsamic, sherry, and spicy green pepper. (Which all makes me feel light-years ahead of the NYT. Not for the first time….)
It was a lot of work (and arguably not the best use of glorious late-summer tomatoes) but those ketchups were divine. We enjoyed them all fall and winter. And then they were gone. 😦
I despise Heinz and Hunts. Not just on Hot Dogs, which is an abomination but on anything. There are few things in this world I can’t stand to eat or even smell, but commercial tomato ketchup is one of them. I’m insulted when waiters put a bottle of ketchup on our table and I’m embarrassed when this happens overseas. I applaud Jose Andres’ drive to bring back the American tradition of having many different flavors of ketchup. Ketchup’s roots are in anchovies, like many of the world’s condiments were. I think a return to these roots might make the condiment more palatable.
I am an unabashed glutton for condiments! Can there ever be enough dipping sauces?