Sunday, November 18, 2007

Condiment of the Week: Ketchup

Ketchup, or Catsup, or however you want to say it or pronounce it (I personally say Catch-Up, which is 100% wrong) is an American staple. Foreigners tend to associate American cooking with putting ketchup on something as witnessed by Micah on Top Chef this past season. A lot of association of ketchup with Americans is because of our fast food culture that has tried to spread throughout the world. When your known for burgers and fried food, ketchup isn't very far behind being put on the plate. So what is it about ketchup that we love so much? Well for one it's got a great sweet taste, and has a thick consistency that makes it perfect for dipping, but yet still can drip a little off a burger when you take an Eschelbacher bite. I still remember as a kid the only way my mom could get me to eat brussel sprouts was by giving me ketchup to dip them in, although eventually I "graduated" to spicy brown mustard. For many, this example is common, using ketchup as a way to disguise the taste of something for children that may not be popular, or even as a way to get a child excited about anything you serve. Heinz ketchup is almost synonymous with the condiment, and for good reason. Its flavor is probably stronger and sweeter than many other brands, has a better red color than others, and is so processed you are not even sure if tomatoes were involved in the creation of the french fry accompaniment.

As much as I love putting ketchup on the normal fries, burger, chicken fingers and other such healthy foods, ketchup really shines when you see how you can incorporate it into cooking, rather than as a sauce or dip. I like to use ketchup as a way to thicken and sweeten sauces for meats, and concentrate its flavor by reducing it with soy sauce and jalapeno.

Catsup Vs. Ketchup

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