11/4/15

To Ketchup or Not: The Blasphemy of Condiment Overuse


By on 11/04/2015 12:37:00 PM

There is a classic episode of Seinfeld that finds Jerry and George seated together in their beloved diner. George starts to opine—as is his way—about how ketchup is no longer the most popular condiment in America; it’s been replaced by salsa, he tells Jerry. “That’s because people like to say sal-sa!” Jerry quips.

One wonders how the two characters might reflect on 2015’s condiment scene, in which it seems like neither ketchup nor salsa is the dominant add-on. Today, Sriracha sauce is all the rage, particularly among foodies who like their meals to have a bit of kick.

The Rise and Fall of Sriracha

Sriracha has been around since 1979 but has recently become more of a movement or a lifestyle than a mere condiment. In fact, you can now find Sriracha-flavored everything—beers, pizzas, and more.

But as with anything that becomes so successful so suddenly, there has been some backlash. No less a luminary than Alton Brown—one of the most celebrated of all Food Network celebrities—has expressed his annoyance with the ingredient’s new-found prominence, while many other foodies have, similarly, opined that Sriracha is too trendy, too prevalent, too much a flash in the pan.

Enough is Enough, Some Chefs Say

The problem Sriracha is facing points to a larger issue, though—the reality that more and more Americans enjoy eating condiments as much as they do, well, proper entrees. Whether your vice is Sriracha, salsa, or good old-fashioned ketchup, a growing number of chefs are throwing up their hands in dismay that their prized dishes have become little more than condiment delivery vehicles.

That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with condiments—within reason, of course. The question is, when has your condiment affection officially gone too far?

Certainly, when you’re using condiments for the wrong reasons, it points to a bigger problem with your palette. According to one study, Sriracha is common among many men not because of its taste, but because of its perception as a “manly” condiment.

Another sign that your condiment use is out of control is that you’re not judicious in how you use a particular condiment. Salsa is alright for chips or tacos, but when you start making it into flavored beers—like they’ve done with Sriracha—that could be an issue.

More than anything, though, you know your condiment use is skewed when you find yourself savoring the condiments over the flavor of real, substantive food--unless your favorite burger and beer joint has the most addictive ketchup, then I stand corrected.

Bottom line: Be careful not to become a condiment connoisseur; in doing so, you may be depriving yourself of far greater culinary treats.


About Angela

Angela is a freelance writer and blogger, blessed with 3 daughters, 4 cats, 1 needy dog, and 1 very supportive husband.

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