People will go to war over condiments. I’ve watched grown men refuse to eat pizza without ranch dressing. I’ve been heckled and jeered for putting ketchup on a hot dog. Disgusting as it may sound, I’ve actually gotten in verbal arguments over whether or not it’s okay to put mayonnaise on your French fries. It’s not; this isn’t Sweden.
It’s ridiculous, but people get very territorial about their condiments.
Let me give it to you as clean as I can. When it comes to a plate of food I’m a bit of a control freak. I need separation of sides, entrees, and any dipping sauces that I may need. I’m not opposed to foods fraternizing with each other but I’m not one to just mix all of my food up into one big sloppy pile, either. I’ll never be the guy who is taking a little bit of each thing onto my fork or spoon and shoveling it down my throat. No, no. It’s one thing at a time for me. And I like some foods with some dipping sauces and some foods with other dipping sauces. I credit this neurotic behavior in part to some OCD tendencies that I have but also to several years attending cotillion where I was taught table manners among other things.
And as for the aforementioned dipping sauces? Well, let’s just say I have a bit of a hierarchy. Ranch dressing is obviously at the top of the totem pole. Its versatility is what sets it apart from the pack and it’s why you can find me dipping fries, pizza, and chicken in ranch. It’s why ranch has popcorn seasoning and why the Migos made a goddamn song about it. It’s the best and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees.
From ranch, we can move on down the line to barbecue sauce and honey mustard. It’s basically:
2b. Honey Mustard.
BBQ and honey mustard are pretty hit or miss for me. I have to be in a very particular mood to order barbecue or honey mustard with, oh, I don’t know, an order of chicken fingers and fries.
When I do, I’m not disappointed. Barbecue and honey mustard are nice reprieves when you want a short break from ranch. We can talk all day about sweet n’ sour sauce, Sriracha, and aioli, but those aren’t “Tier 1” sauces. They’re novelty acts. Sauces you use to merely break up the monotony. They’re not starters and they never will be. Think about your tastes as a young child. Think back to the dipping sauce that you once favored over the ranches and honey mustards of the world.
I’m speaking, of course, about quite possibly the most controversial of all of the dipping sauces: ketchup.
Is it disgusting? Delicious? Somewhere in between? Ketchup is a condiment that doesn’t get a lot publicity simply because it’s been around so long. It’s taken for granted in the food community. It’s sweet and tangy and wholly different than any other condiment on the market. It’s not flashy like your chipotle mayo or garlic-infused mustard. Ketchup was the dipping sauce before there was such a thing as dipping sauces. You don’t hear the critically acclaimed Migos rapping about Heinz ketchup. Leave the publicity to ranch dressing and Sriracha, ketchup does just fine on its own, thank you very much.
As with anything else, there’s a line with ketchup. It’s habitually stepped over because I don’t think people know any better. Where is the line, you ask? Well for me, there are obviously certain foods that you just cannot under any circumstances put ketchup on. But it’s also in how much of it you’re allowed to use before I’m labeling you a disgusting troglodyte.
Ketchup in small amounts is fine. Sure, seeing a plate half full of ketchup grosses me out. Same with when you squeeze a ketchup bottle and that gross, light red juice comes squirting out because you forgot to shake.
When one decides they should put ketchup all over their fries instead of on the side of the plate I am forced to roll my eyes. When I’m at a steakhouse and I hear someone ask for a bottle of ketchup to use I’ll usually let out a healthy chortle. A kid putting ketchup on his mac and cheese? Vomit inducing.
But guess what? At least for today, I don’t hate any of those people because they appreciate ketchup. They know it’s a great dipping sauce and so do you. It’s just gotten lost in the shuffle a little bit.
Ketchup is under-appreciated and neglected in a world full of sauces that our great-grandparents could have never dreamed of. We take it for granted every single day of our lives and I won’t stand for it anymore. If you’re going out to dinner tonight why not try a side of ketchup with your french fries instead of ranch? Maybe order a plate of meatloaf with a nice side of Heinz original. Hell, if you’re getting a steak ask for some ketchup with it. I’ll let it slide tonight. Ketchup is a nice little slice of Americana and it’s imperative that we give it our utmost attention. It deserves a place on the mantle right next to ranch, honey mustard, and barbecue sauce. .