Is Ketchup The Secret of Happiness?

Mommy adores ketchup; it is almost an addiction for her. She puts on on everything from scrambled eggs to macaroni; cooking would be unfathomable without the addition of this ruby-colored condiment. I always thought it was strange – this all encompassing obsession with gloopy tomatoes, that is, until recently when I started adding it to marinades and curries.

My mother always makes fun of me saying that I put curry powder in everything I cook, well, she does the same with ketchup – she puts it on eggs, sausages,  adds it to stews, uses it as a sauce for rice and pasta. The only things she does not use ketchup for is for cake and ice cream.

Sometimes, when you make fun of people for whatever reason, you end up acquiring some of their habits. Little by little, I was pulled into the world of ketchup, adding a dash of it, almost involuntarily, to many of my dishes. Mommy won, she was right – it does tend to balance out flavors and make food happy.

What is ketchup, though? What’s in it? Ketchup originated in China and was made famous in America by Henry J. Heinz. It is usually made of tomatoes, sugar, salt, vinegar, and spices. Heinz is still the most popular brand in this country, but it has an incredible amount of sugar, that is why I am currently using Sir Kensington’s Ketchup, which has 50% less sugar and 33% less sodium, or so they say.

Ketchup is now precious to me, using only a few squeezes at a time – it adds a special savory-sweet touch to cooked dishes. It is not only for hot dogs and hamburgers anymore. There is one red line though, where ketchup is unacceptable – no steak with ketchup for me. Ever.

Photo by iStockphoto

If you ever decide to make ketchup at home, below is a healthy version by The Vegan Corner.

INGREDIENTS

14oz tinned tomatoes

13oz fresh tomatoes

1 oz shallots

1 clove garlic

1 oz granulated sugar

¼ tsp mustard seeds

1 clove

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground ginger

1 oz red bell pepper

1 pinch cinnamon

⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

⅛ tsp sweet paprika

2 tbsp apple vinegar

¼ tsp salt

To thicken the ketchup

⅛ tsp agar agar powder

1 tbsp water (to disperse the agar)