I want to talk about something I believe to be a scourge of group barbeques – homemade, or otherwise fancy, sauces. Just stop, already. Nobody is impressed.
Now, I’m not talking about the packets of “Fancy Ketchup” that you get from McDonald’s; those are fine. I’m talking about the too thick, too tomato-y, not sweet enough catsup that people seem to insist on making and bringing to eating events. (I must admit that I did this in my early twenties in an attempt to impress those around me. No one was interested.)
And home cooks are not the only ones at fault, here. I cannot tell you how many restaurants – even so called “dive bars”! – insist on serving their fries with fancy, artisanal, too-tomato-y sauce, but I can tell you how much I hate it. I hate it a lot.
Tomato sauce is not something that needs to be elevated. Commercially made tomato sauce or ketchup is a perfect condiment that is a genre unto itself. Though it contains tomatoes, it’s not tomato flavored. It should be sweet (HFCS is non-negotiable, in my opinion), tangy, and impossibly smooth. Homemade ketchup is rarely all of these things (or any of them to the proper extent), and I wish people would quit making it.
Anyway. I would love to hear your opinions on homemade and fancy ketchup (assuming they align with my own beliefs), but let’s use this opportunity to talk about the state of condiments in general. As always, I have some questions:
- What condiment is totally worth making yourself? Mayonnaise is the only condiment I routinely make myself, and then I make duck fat mayonnaise.
- Do you have a favourite brand? H-E-I-N-Z.
- What should, and should not, be put on a hot dog? I know everyone will disrespectfully disagree, but I enjoy the trinity of ketchup, mustard, and mayo. I started eating hot dogs this way when I was about eight, and I have no intention of stopping just because society isn’t ready.
- What do you spread on your burger buns? Mayo and/or mustard, mood depending. Tomato sauce is for fries in this context.
- Have you made your own mustard? Did it have an impact on your life whatsoever? I have and I do not remember the experience very vividly.
- What about BBQ sauce? In the words of the Contessa herself, store-bought is fine.
- How many hot sauces do you currently have in your fridge? What are they? I have four – Huy Fong sriracha, Trappey’s Louisiana, some fancy brand ghost pepper stuff someone gave me (and I’m never going to use), and a jar of sambal oelek.
- What condiments do you like mixing together? In college, my friend Matt and I used to put ketchup and mustard on a plate together side by side, then gently swirl each individual fry through them, never completely mixing the two. Each bite was a different ratio of sweet and aggressively vinegary. It was good.
Per the usual, feel free to leave any ramblings related to our topic at hand, even if they don’t directly answer the above questions, and especially if they are anti-fancy ketchup ramblings. I am a big fan of those.
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