Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Andrew Smith's 57-Plus Varieties He Says the History of Ketchup Is Part of the American Story

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Andrew Smith's 57-Plus Varieties He Says the History of Ketchup Is Part of the American Story

Article excerpt

THIS was no burger-and-fries crew. We're definitely talking the pardon-me-would-you-have-any-Grey-Poupon set here.

Didn't matter. Genteel elbows were thrown by people with French accents. Men in bow ties clutched at Chinet plates. These words were ac tually uttered: "Excuse me - I'm trying to get to the mushroom ketchup."

But anticipation - and a healthy crowd - was keeping members of a culinary history group waiting to taste more than 57 varieties of ketchup culled by Andrew F. Smith, who knows the stuff like nobody's business. A good thing, too, since it's become his business. Smith, a culinary historian whose last book traced the tomato's beginnings, spent five years researching the history of the french fry's favorite lotion for his new book, "Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment" (University of South Carolina Press, $24.95). Smith talks with great animation about the condiment that has ruled his life for much of the 1990s. He is a font of ketchup (catsup?) knowledge, f rom the purported origins of the name (an unverified southern Chinese word, "ketsiap") to the recipe for cockle ketchup (the secret: port, anchovies and garlic). "Ketchup is a thread to our past, a glimpse into our present and a link to our future," says Smith, 50. Fortunately, there's a trace of irony in his voice - but not much. So why spend a chunk of your life gathering data about a venerable foodstuff that's usually served in a little packet at McDonald's? "For us, history was taught as kings and queens and battles and wars," he says. "Those things are important. But the things we do in our daily lives are important too." The book starts out as a sweeping history - ketchup in the ancient Mediterranean, ketchup evolving with the help of the British Empire - but finds its stride in an amazing variety of fun historical nuggets that Smith uncovered about ketchup's evolution. "You have a fish sauce, and all of a sudden you have tomato ketchup," he says. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.