song – ketchup

July 31, 2007

[splashcast GMPG3383OC AMYA1303QZ]


yesterday i cooked several hot dogs to have for lunch. when i was ready to dress them, i discovered that there was no ketchup in the fridge. this was tragic. i had some deli mustard and that was all. it was a very depressing moment. all i had was deli mustard and onion. i thought about putting some other condiment on the hot dogs, something to add some sweetness. i considered strawberry preserves. i considered thai chili sauce, i considered pasta sauce. i considered looking up a ketchup recipe and making some from the fresh tomato in the pantry. in the end i just ate the hotdogs because they were getting cold with all the thinking going on.

“Ketchup is ‘one of the greatest successes the sauce world has ever known,’ wrote Elizabeth Rozin in the Journal of Gastronomy (Summer 1988). In its brilliant red color, its rich flavor, and its marked salinity, Rozin theorizes, ketchup represents the “fulfillment, both real and symbolic, of the ancient and atavistic lust for blood,” magically achieved with the use of plant products alone. Rozin also draws an analogy to the Christian Mass and its fruity surrogate for the blood of Christ, but I forget how it goes. All I know is that I discovered a case of Del Monte in one of the celebrated kitches of Piemonte, in northern Italy, vying with tartufi and porcini for the chef’s affections. And last year in Paris, in a kitchen soon to recieve its second Michelin star, I watched the chef add a dollop of Heinz to his sauce of salmon’s blood, red wine, and verjus, a postmodernization of Escoffier’s sauce genovoise. Cervantes once wrote, “La mejor salsa del mundo es la hambre,” the best sauce in the world is the hunger. Cervantes had obviously never tasted ketchup.”

– Jeffrey Steingarten, “Playing Ketchup,” The Man Who Ate Everything, p. 93

i wrote a song about my history with ketchup.


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