Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Ketchup Manifesto

Certain foods can cause a lot of passion among people. There are Web sites dedicated to those against mayonnaise, for example. And some people I know can’t even be in the same room as cilantro.

I didn’t realize ketchup could be placed in that same category. I mean, we’re talking about an all-American condiment. Something found on almost every table at any restaurant across the nation. Well, almost any restaurant.

I recently went to a couple of restaurants where I ordered a dish with a side of roasted potatoes. What better combination than perfectly golden brown roasted potatoes and the sweet tartness of juicy, red ketchup. And this was at brunch where it’s almost required that you have ketchup with your potatoes.

But it seems that in the current sustainable, organic, natural eat-only-what-you-make movement, ketchup is not something a chef believes in providing. It’s almost like they think adding ketchup to their dish is like adding salt when the dish is perfectly seasoned.

Just look at these potatoes that I ordered one day at one of those natural California restaurants. They were perfectly cooked with crispy, golden edges and tender body. They were perfection — except for the fact that they were naked. It needed that glistening, ruby color of ketchup.

I have to admit that I am a ketchup fanatic. When my nephew and niece were young, I purposely freaked them out by pouring ketchup on almost anything. Some of them made sense like roasted potatoes or French fries. And some things were just very Hawaiian, some thing pretty common growing up in Honolulu. Ketchup on scrambled eggs, for example, or even on rice. (Am I grossing you out yet?)

But I took it a step further. I started (just for fun) to put ketchup on a muffin and even once I put it on broccoli. I was making a point, but inside I was really excited about what I was about to eat.

So yeah, I love ketchup. And I would put it on anything if I could. But at the very least it should be roasted potatoes during brunch. So I don't get why some restaurants refuse to stock a bottle of ketchup. It’s a condiment, which means it’s something to add to enhance the food. And if the restaurant feels that they don’t want to serve something processed or pre-made, then maybe they should make a tomato a├»oli or homemade version of ketchup. I just wanted that tangy sweetness to offset the savory crunch of roasted potatoes.

What do you think? Should ketchup be required at every restaurant that serves potatoes? I’m standing up today to say, wholeheartedly, with no anticipation or hesitation, YES!


julie k said...

I am not a ketchup fan, but I think it is snobby to not at least have it available if someone asks for it. Maybe you need to start carrying around packets of it...if they see the empty packet, maybe they will get the message!

Hungry Dog said...

I like ketchup, although perhaps not *quite* as much as you! I don't want it on everything, but I definitely want it on burgers, fries, and breakfast potatoes!

egg to the apples said...

I also adore ketchup, don't be intimidated by those condiment haters out there.

agent713 said...

I'm a ketchup fan. My brother is not. He adores potatos but can't STAND ketchup. It's actually kind of funny. I don't put it on everything (definitely not broccoli) but I usually put it on my eggs. Yum!

Funniest ketchup request I ever heard? My Texan friend at a sushi restaurant after they brought the tempura. Hey, it was deep fried, she figured it needed ketchup!!!

Amanda @ Cakes and Ale said...

I love ketchup... and there are some very good organic, natural ketchups out there too.

However, in Chicago, there is one thing we absolutely DO NOT put ketchup on and that is the Chicago-style hot dog. Mustard only!

Carolyn Jung said...

Ketchup is a requisite for almost any breakfast/brunch, no matter what age the diner is. With eggs, you just gotta have it. With potatoes, too. It'd be like eating a hot dog without mustard. Perish the thought.

Single Guy Ben said...

JulieK: I don't have a man-purse, so I'm afraid if I carried ketchup packets, they'd burst in my pocket.

HD: Thanks for reminding me about burgers. Mmm, lots of ketchup on my burgers.

Egg to the apples: No way! :)

Agent713: That is hilarious. On the other hand, oooh I love the sauce they give for pork tonkatsu. Like A1 sauce!

Amanda, thanks for the warning! I definitely would have put ketchup on my hotdog if I were visiting Chicago so you saved me embarassment (although I can't guarantee I might not slip so red stuff on a Chicago dog)

Carolyn, glad to know I'm not the only one putting ketchup on eggs!

Cookie said...

I would've never guessed I'd find someone as in love with ketchup as my honey! I don't think he would step foot in a restaurant that didn't serve it, especially if they offered potatoes! You could never gross me out cuz he puts ketchup on everything from burritos to...yes, PANCAKES! (Not sure if he would eat broccoli just cuz it had ketchup on it though.) Needless to say, we buy our Heinz bottles from Costco. :)

James said...

What would a good omurice (or anything else for that matter) be without bottled ketchup? It's the soul of post-industrial revolution flavor :]

Stephanie Stiavetti said...

I love ketchup! I actually have a fabulous recipe if you want to try your hand at making it yourself - super simple, and you can make it as sweet/tart/vinegary as you want.

foodhoe said...

I do love ketchup with fries, Mr. K prefers grey poup... I strongly object to restaurants controlling the condiments, I also am deeply offended when restaurants don't offer plebian sodas like coke.

robertjm said...

Ketchup is normal on eggs in Canada, but I'd probably look at you a little funny if I saw you putting it on muffins!!

IrisA said...

I got landblasted yesterday on the way to brunch about the "wrongness" of ketchup. In particular, putting it on eggs. I've come to think that it's a cultural and regional thing--what one puts on their eggs or sometimes puts their eggs on (NZ). Coming from Hawaii where we like things sweet, ketchup is normal... I think it also comes heavily from the Asian backgrounds of a lot of Hawaii's inhabitants. I laughed at the ketchup on tempura comment but then thought about it and yeah, when my Filipino parents made tempura, they put the ketchup out with it, too. Another thing I think is completely normal is Fried chicken and ketchup... everyone I've asked where I currently live (SW) looks at me perplexed at the thought with a hint of "Eww... that's gross." Everyone here seems to put tobasco or salsa on their eggs which I thought was interesting but never SHUNNED or looked down upon. Oh... and one last thing... I read once in a stupid internet article on dating that one of the tell tale signs to drop the person you're seeing is if they put ketchup on their eggs. The reason given was just "Trust me on this one." WTF? If that was true--which I know it isn't--I'd be in the crap shoot from day one. Ridiculous! I say: All hail the red & sweet sauce and use it however you want!