If I could no longer eat Ketchup, it would nearly ruin my life. I’m 32 years old.
Condiments are meant to act as flavor enhancers, subtle sauces that compliment and coalesce within the meal one is consuming to enrich the overall imbibing experience. This, however, is not how I use condiments. I prefer it if the condiment is the star and the meal itself the talented if often overlooked, background singers. The meal is, essentially a vehicle ascribed with the sole purpose of transporting condiments to my tastebuds. It is an intermediary. And within the world of condiments, there is only one true-born king. The prince who was promised, the stallion who would mount the world and indeed did.
Smooth, rich, coagulated, lycopene saturated ketchup.
The nectar of the Gods. It’s sugary and salty at the same time; it brazenly defies culinary convention (that’s probably not true).
For as long as I can remember I have loved ketchup with a fervor typically displayed by overly-enthusiastic underlings in a Totalitarian regime. Eggs, french fries, potato chips, burgers, hot dogs, pickles, mac n’ cheese…bread.
I used to construct ketchup sandwiches on a daily basis in my younger years. A ketchup sandwich, in case you’re wondering, consists of ketchup and bread. Except, occasionally when the moon was waxing gibbous and I was in a particularly extravagant mood—in those instances, I would add a few potato chips.
Although my ketchup consumption has lessened considerably over the years (I no longer indulge in K-sandwiches) it’s still remarkably high. When I open my fridge and see nary a crimson bottle throughout the whole expanse my heart sinks and my mouth becomes dessert-like. The plate of food sitting on the counter awaiting my liberal application of red suddenly looks entirely unappealing— desaturated and flat. I think to myself: What is this? Is this food? I slog my way through the meal, each bite blander the last, the entire experience an exercise in dealing with disappointment.
Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence.
I was eating some eggs yesterday morning and the thought of a ketchup-less life flashed in front of my eyes as I dipped my egg sandwich—already adorned with ketchup—into the heaping pile of ketchup on my plate.
This hypothetical existence (if you could even call it that) devoid of ketchup, is a Mad Max level dystopia, but without all the awesome weapons and cars and the whole dieselpunk aesthetic. It’s essentially a barren dessert, with no color, no vibrancy, no life.
Countless people have responded to my ketchup usage by stating,
“You don’t even taste the food that way.”
I know that, I taste the ketchup.
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody a condiment, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
-When Harry Met Sally (kind of.)
For what is a french fry without ketchup? It is but a mere sliced potato, bland and mundane. It is a life without music; it is a cloud-covered sunset -seen by no one. Eggs without their tomato compatriot are slovenly piles devoid of elegance, or lonely, bulging pods gazing longingly for a soul-mate. Most veggie burgers are sponge-like clods that taste like warm water and cheap soap -but ketchup hides all that. It’s a fixer. I have never seen Ray Donovan, but from what I hear, he and Ketchup have a very similar day-to-day.
I have learned to live without ketchup in various scenarios; I have even made it through an egg sandwich without my culinary life-blood, so I am working on it.
And maybe some day, in some other world, with three moons glistening softly in the sky I will have fully separated myself from the wondrous glory of this tomato-based product.
But not today. It won’t be today.
Originally published on The Overgrown.