Thursday, February 08, 2007

Comments on Condiments

Quite often in my meanderings through the internet, I click on a random link on the sidebar at Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin. I typically find myself reading comics commentary, and have found quite a few decent comic blogs that I read with regularity. However, today I came across an entry about, of all things, ketchup; entertaining, sure, but not what I was expecting. This is the entirety of the entry (cut and pasted, no offense to Blogger Erich):

At dinner the other night, it occurred to me...every ketchup (or catsup, whichever spelling you prefer) bottle I've ever seen has read "[insert brand name here] Tomato Ketchup." Which got me there any other kind of ketchup besides tomato? I suppose it's theoretically possible to subject any number of fruits and vegetables to the ketchuping process, but I've never heard of it being done...

Putting aside the fact that I now really enjoy the word “ketchuping”, it got me interested in reading up on the quintessentially American condiment (and enjoyed thoroughly here north of the 49th as well). It has a long and convoluted history, which people don’t seem to be able to agree on. Ketchup actually used to be a general term for sauce, and used to be made of mushrooms or fish brine, but most people know the traditional tomato-based variety (although there are MANY other versions). The word itself might have an etymological origin in the Amoy dialect of Chinese, or in Malayan. It’s an essential component in Thousand Island dressing and BBQ sauces. People use it on almost everything: scrambled eggs (the very thought of which makes me shudder and feel slightly nauseous), French fries, macaroni & cheese, fried chicken, baked potatoes, steak, fish, tacos, rice, onion rings, and of course, hamburgers and hot dogs.

EXCEPT. And this is where I really got confused. Apparently, hot dog “aficionados” insist that you should never dress your hot dog with ketchup. Apparently, it ruins the flavour. Now, I don’t know about you people out there, but I’ve eaten my fair share of hot dogs in my time, roasted over the fire, boiled, grilled, roasted; home-made, from the best vendor in Edmonton, and even at the movie theaters. I can’t honestly say that hot dogs have a flavour that you could ruin with the addition of sugar, salt, and tomatoes. In fact, my favourite hot dog topping would be ketchup, mustard, onions, and sauerkraut. Sure, you don’t want to kiss me after I have a couple, but then again, you probably don’t want to kiss me before I have a couple either. Am I crazy? Has anyone ever heard of this anti-ketchup brigade before? What do you put on your hot dogs? Enquiring Docs want to know.


Ryan Ro said...

1) Mmm fat franks

2) I'd kiss you for a Klondike Bar

3) I used to be nauseated by ketchup on scrambled eggs. Now I eat it on my eggs. I hate pooling a big red splotch on eggs. I just zorro a small amount over the legs lightly for flavor.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

The interesting thing about the word "ketchup" is that in Cantonese, the two words that make up the word are "tomato" (/keh/) and "sauce" (/jiup/). So what came first, the Cantonese term or the English one? Hrm.

And ketchup is good with french fries, oven-baked fish sticks, onion rings, pan-friend spaghetti with beef done Mom-style, and hot dogs. Anything else, and it's getting kinda yucky for me.

Shannon said...

This is a strangely fascinating post- I'd never thought of it. How cool that Ketchup is chinese in origin!

For the record, I don't eggs very much so I vote no on the ketchup and egg issue. Plus, it is kinda gross to put something looking so blood like on what was once intended to be a chicken baby.

And I demand ketchup with hot dogs!

Justice~! said...


I have spoken

The Doc said...

Ro, my problem with ketchup and eggs is that since eggs have such a delicate flavour, if you put ketchup on them, you might as well just be eating a plate of ketchup custard. I don't like ketchup that much. Also, I'm getting nauseous just writing about this, so I'm stopping now.

Mrs. L, yeah, that's one of the possible origins of the word. The other ones were the Cantonese /gwai jiup/ ("fish sauce") or the Malaysian /kechap/ ("taste"). It's generally thought that it came from Asia first and then the English took it for themselves, English being the bastard language that it is. If I got it wrong, don't blame me: blame Wikipedia!

Shannon, mmm, eggs. I'm going to have some right now, even.

Justice, I have some addedums to your equations:

Ninjastolz said...

First of all ketchup on eggs is yuck and all those who do it should be firmly kicked in a butt cheek, not the whole thing that would be overkill. Secondly THE best toppings for a hotdog would be cheese whiz and miracle whip, I'm probably alone in that but I mean the word miracle is right in the title of one of those condiments (quickly balanced out by whiz in the other).

Jago said...

I do like the ketchup on scrambled eggs. But I can't understand what would compel someone to ruin Kraft Dinner that way.

Chalk me up to not using ketchup on hot dogs. It's mustard and relish for me. Although I'll deviate at times, with sauerkraut, BBQ sauce, chopped onions,Miracle Whip, A1 sauce, and other stuff. But on ketchup on hot dogs.

The weird part is, I'll break that rule for wiener wraps, because the ketchup goes pretty well with the baked pastry around it.

Xeryfyn said...

I will confess to being one of *those* ketchup on egg people, but the ketchup must go on the side, not on top, so you arent drowning in too much ketchup-y.

Jago, I also have ketchup on KD so *nyah* on you

However, the BEST thing to put on hotdogs? REAL cheddar, bacon (crumbled not strips), onions and maybe a smattering of ketchup. On non-heart attack days, I'd settle for ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish.

As for the Chinese/Malay etimology of ketchup, I'll leave that one for today and just be glad that despite its origins, I very rarely see ketchup on rice.

the Worst Ninja Ever said...

Let's see if I can catch up here (ha!):

Ketchup on eggs = ydamn straight
Ketchup on Kraft Dinner = hellz yeah
Ketchup on processed, battered, fried fish products, possibly in stick form = yes
Ketchup on fries = yes
Ketchup on rice = evil and wrong

That said, I like my hotdogs loaded with toppings. If possible, I'd load 'em up with ketchup, a hot mustard, cheese, corn relish, sauerkraut, onions, and jalapenos. It's a flavour and texture extravaganza, which you can only do with a processed meat product like hotdogs.

Fiona said...

Firstly, my hotdog usually has just relish and ketchup on it. Yum. If it's a special occasion, there may also be a little sauerkraut.

Secondly, I love that the post about ketchup has generated the most comments on the page.

Natalie said...

Chicago is a town famous for hot dogs. As a life long vegetarian, I miss out on most of that. However, I know that, in this city, Ketchup is NOT supposed to go on a hot dog. I don't know why but I know people take it very seriously. Personally I may go home and cook up one of my veggie dogs slap on some ketchup and chow down. Happy Valentines Day Dogs for Dinner. Actually maybe not. Fiona mentioned this pose getting so many comments, the most comments I ever got was from a post about pizza. I guess they are just things people can relate to.

The Doc said...

Ninjastolz, I'm with you with Cheez Wiz, but the addition of Miracle Whip has me intrigued. Of course, the hot dog facists would probably give us the lash for even thinking about it...

Jago, I can't get over the fact that you ketchup your eggs but think that it "ruins" KD. It takes all kinds, I guess...

Xeryfyn, your first hot dog is what most hot dogs want to be when they grow up. That is a manly pile!

Worst Ninja, this corn relish you speak of, where does one obtain it? I mean, aside from making it, I mean, which I've tried and RUINED.

Fiona, I think that's amusing too. People have strong feelings about ketchup, I guess.

Natalie, if you thought the response I got to this was impressive, watch the crickets echo in response the most recent post..;

Matthew E said...

I read a Straight Dope column once that addressed the ketchup-on-hot-dogs question. According to Cecil Adams, if you ask a Chicago hot dog vendor for ketchup, he'll give it to you, but with an expression on his face that says, "Behold this creature that walks like a man. It wants ketchup on its hot dog."

Up to that point I had been loading my hot dogs with ketchup, mustard and relish. After reading that, I tried it with just mustard and relish, and liked it that way.

I can't eat eggs without ketchup. But then I don't really like eggs. I can eat KD without ketchup, but prefer it with, and, optimally, some ground beef or cut-up hot dogs to give it some texture.