Recent posts about ketchup got me thinking about the condiment, which I hadn't done in awhile. Outside of the ususal suspects (hot dogs, hamburgers) and as an occasional recipe component, I don't use ketchup much. However, as a kid I was crazy for the stuff, using it to top everything from baked potatoes to buttered noodles to rice. Anyway, a trip to Wikipedia led me to the following article: http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_09_...
The article theorizes that Heinz ketchup and its ilk basically strike a perfect balance amongst all 5 primary flavor componenets (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami). As a result, the article says, we'll never experience a Grey Poupon movmement with ketchup--the plain old version we all know will always dominate the market because any attempt to improve upon ketchup inevitably leads to throwing the flavor profile out of balance.
Well, the article made me feel better about my childhood fondness for ketchup--I wasn't simply being unadventurous, I was showing appreciation for a perfectly balanced food! That being said, I don't know if I completely buy the article's argument. For one thing, it seems a little U.S.-centric. Heinz, Hunt's, etc. may be synonymous with ketchup to those of us in the United States, but that's not the case with the entire world. I read once that Russians are wild about ketchup, and there it comes in many different variations and is sometimes used as a sauce rather than a codiment. Plus, if you take a look at the Ketchup World web site, http://www.ketchupworld.com/ketchupne... , you'll find all different kinds of ketchup from around the globe.
So, what do you think? Is ketchup as we know it in the U.S. a condiment that cannot be improved upon? Do we know something the rest of the world doesn't? Or do they know something we don't? Or maybe ketchup is just appreciated differently in different places?