Sunday, June 7, 2009

Making a Case for Ketchup

A while back ago, a few friends and I got into a discussion over lunch, after one of them mentioned eating her Swiss Chalet chicken with ketchup. Consequently, such a comment made some us for cringe at the thought. Chicken with ketchup? Especially in place of Swiss Chalet sauce (I know my brother would be appalled; he swears by the sauce and always gets extra sauce)? But after a discussion on how much is too much, I realised that I too use ketchup quite often.

According to the statistics presented at the 8th World Tomato Congress last year, 35.8 millions of tons of ketchup was consumed worldwide in 2008. What is with our fascination and love with ketchup? But while it is consumed by many, ketchup is still merely relegated to the role of “condiment”—not even a sidekick to the star of the show, but an extra on the plate.

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I never really thought how big of a role ketchup played in my life. Like many people, I’ve taken ketchup for granted since I was a child. I ate ketchup the traditional way, adding them to my fries, my hot dogs or my Pogos (uh, remember those?). I even dipped my chicken nuggets and my fish fingers into the red stuff. And as much as I cringe at the memory, I used to eat my steak with ketchup (I was five and didn’t know any better).

However, I never did pick up the habit of eating scrambled eggs with ketchup, despite watching many fellow peers do it in 1st-year (forgivable at times with the bland, dry as rubber eggs they were serving us), and I only managed to briefly experiment with ketchup in my KD following my 3rd-year roommate’s habit.

But I remember that as I kid, my mom would sometimes make me ketchup pasta. I recall trying to make it myself, probably when I was about eight or nine, thinking it was as simple as throwing boiled pasta and ketchup together. One forkful of it made me realise, in utter disappointment (and disgust), that it wasn’t.

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It’s not meant to drench the pasta like tomato sauce is. Heating the ketchup in a pan with some oil ensures that you get a thin coating on the pasta, enough to coat the pasta and give it a pinkish tinge, as well as the right amount of sweet-and-sour tang. And one of my favourite Japanese dishes, the omurice, uses a tomato-based rice filling—more often than not ketchup being used as the based, and then drizzled on top of the omelette to finish it off.

Perhaps part of it is my love for the sweet-and-sour flavour combination; perhaps part of it is are memories and habits I’ve retained from my childhood. Sure, it may weird people out to use ketchup with pasta, or to see me eating my fish and chips with ketchup (which I still do), but old habits die hard. And at least I can rejoice in the fact that at the very least, I don’t eat ketchup with everything.

What do you like to have your ketchup with?

4 comments:

Andrew & (formerly) Bonita June 8, 2009 at 4:27 PM  

I do NOT order extra Chalet sauce... though now I'm craving for Swiss Chalet. Good heavens, why can't it be established in Manitoba?

I also remember as a kid Mom making sweet & sour pork using ketchup, or is my memory a bit off here?

Suzanne Gardner June 9, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

MMMMMMM KETCHUP ON MY SWISS CHALET CHICKEN! :D

Bonita June 9, 2009 at 9:03 PM  

I swore you ordered extra sauce...otherwise, how would you have extra to drizzle over your rice?! ;) Regardless, you have to admit, you love that stuff.

Dad also used it in his baked pork chop rice dish. Man, sometimes I miss the HK-style western food. Brings back memories...

Andrew & (formerly) Bonita June 10, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

Emphasis on "drizzle"... I still managed to have enough sauce left over on a single-leg dinner. Double-leg dinner was iffier, but good heavens, their rice isn't the bland type, drowning it w/ Chalet sauce wouldn't do it justice either.

Right, Dad's baked pork chops on rice. That seems like the only thing he could make properly, wasn't it? (Oh, snap!) :oP

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