Saturday, January 22, 2011

From the Archives: Why is Ketchup So Good?

(originally posted February 9, 2006)

"The taste of Heinz's ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?"--"The Ketchup Conundrum," The New Yorker Archive.

My name is Cindy, and I'm a ketchupaholic.

I've always loved ketchup inordinately, putting it on such a wide range of foods that I risked grossing out fellow diners (now, out of deference to the squeamish, I avoid putting it on my baked potatoes in public. But it's good. Really it is!)

Actually, in recent years I've come to realize that my tomato fixation isn't confined to ketchup. I crave ALL things tomato and tomato-based. I mean, I really crave them.

Tomatoes themselves--especially the plump, ripe, juicy ones that are given to me from the gardens of generous friends in late summer--sliced up and eaten with a dash of salt, or in tandem with sliced garden cucumbers soaked in delicate rice vinegar.

Tomato soup--intertwined with the memory of being sick as a child, and pampered by my mother. Just sick enough not to have to go to school, but not too sick to enjoy and be comforted by the mug of Campbell's tomato alongside a grilled-cheese sandwich and chased by the good-for-my-tummy 7Up.

Tomato sauce--ladled on my spaghetti, permeating my lasagna noodles, or generously applied to pizza crust-- especially at my favorite local Italian eateries, Giuseppe's, Pino's and Panino's.

Salsa. Tomato juice. V-8 juice. I'm telling you, if it's tomato-based, I probably crave it.

But the king of all tomato-based products is Heinz ketcup.

I was reminded of this when I answered a food survey posted by Marla Swoffer on her blog, Always Thirsty. It's a fun quiz to take, starting with the question, "What's your favorite way to eat scrambled eggs?"

Well...naturally, I like them best topped with ketchup or salsa. Marla also asked, "Which foods/condiments do you insist on using a certain brand? (tell us the brands too)" To which I replied, "It's Heinz Ketchup all the way. To me, no other brand comes close. Goodness, I think I'm flexible on just about everything else!"

Apparently, I'm not alone in my Heinz fixation (although one commenter says she refuses to buy Heinz--could it be because of the Theresa Heinz Kerry connection? That's a connection I try not to examine too closely).

And someone calling themselves "Atlantic" posted the link to the article from which I quoted above. It's lengthy, but if food lore interests you, it's intriguing.

How about you? Is there a certain food brand you refuse to do without? do you like your scrambled eggs? :)

Oh--and if, like me, you've always wondered why ketchup is sometimes called catsup, wonder no more.

Photo credits:


Lea said...

How funny! We prefer Hunt's ketsup and usually only eat it with FF and that is rarely. I do not eat tomatoes (I know, I'm weird) but do use some tomato sauce in cooking.
Interesting post!

Cindy Swanson said...

Lea, Hunt's is actually my second favorite. It's not bad at all!

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