2.What It’s Like to Eat Hot Dogs for Sport
3.Nick Tunes: Composing the Soundtrack to Your Childhood
4.L.A.’s Best Indian Food Is in This Gas Station
5.Bookworm Paradise: Kick Back in China’s Infinite Reading Space
6.Chen Zhitong Won 15,000 Stuffed Animals From Claw Machines Last Year
7.Aquatic Affection: How a Scuba Diver Found a Good Friend Under the Sea
8.The Pie That Stares Right Back
9.Taiwan’s Age-Old Tradition of Massaging With Knives
10.Higher and Higher: Bringing Chinese Rap to the World Stage
11.A Hot Dog Is Not a Sandwich. A Burrito Is.
12.Searching for China’s Ancient Tea Leaves
13.‘I Am His Hands. He Is My Eyes.’ The Friendship That Built a Forest
14.The Journey to the World’s Most Remote Teahouse
15.The Plunge And The Spike: Spearfishing The Caribbean Blue
16.The California Roll Was Invented in Canada
17.Fishing Alongside Dolphins Off the Coast of Brazil
18.Keeping the Ancient Craft of Tin Embroidery Alive
19.Before Sushi, There Was Funazushi
20.The Flying Farmer
21.Helping Tibetan Youth Find Their Wings
22.The Master of Singapore’s Carrot-less Carrot Cake
23.Vietnam’s Floating Pocket of Paradise
24. China’s Best Leaf Musician
25.Harvesting the World’s Most Expensive Caviar
Nothing is as American as the ketchup you use to top your hot dog at a baseball game on a hot summer day, right? Well, we have some bad news. America’s favorite squeeze bottle of tomato-red condiment that’s in every diner across our great nation is definitely Chinese. And not the-bottle’s-made-in-China Chinese. Nope. Ketchup is originally from China. And that original ketchup wasn’t even made with tomatoes. It was made with fish guts.
The first recorded mention of ketchup, a catch-all table condiment adored by all (except Chicagoans on hot dogs), dates all the way back to 6th century China, where the standard recipe put it more in the fermented, salted fish intestine and bladder paste category than the tangy-sweet sauce category.
It was popular throughout Southeast Asia from that time onward, so when British and Dutch explorers and traders made it out there in the 17th century, they naturally tried it. And they LOVED it. Apparently, it was great with everything, so they brought it back home to Western Europe and began modifying the recipe for their own tastes and times. Some added sweeteners, like strawberries and peaches, while others added body to the concoction with beer, mushrooms and walnuts. But whatever the recipe, ketchup was a mainstay on the European table just as it had been on the Asian one.
Which, of course, meant that when the Brits and Dutch started moving to North America, so too did their ketchup. In the early 1800s, American horticulturist, scientist and condiment pioneer James Mease decided to add tomatoes to the mix, as the fruit is an American native and provides a great tangy-juicy-sweet kick to just about anything.
By the end of the century, Mease’s ketchup recipes were the standard, and the New York Tribute called ketchup “America’s national condiment” (again, sorry Chicago). It’s been a long road, but we’re glad ketchup made it here. We’re glad Mease put some tomatoes in it.
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