I broke down and used a neglected Christmas gift card to a restaurant. The restaurant in question was the one that associates itself with the only inhabited country that is also a continent, dingo’s, and boomerangs. I picked up some food as I am a loner, and finding someone else to share in this dinner would have been much too time consuming. Once home I unpacked my burger, and instinctively reached for ketchup and smothered both dish and side with the viscus liquid. My first bite reminded me why I hadn’t been back to that restaurant in years: the burger and fries wreaked and tasted like grease, but I was hungry. To cover the flavor of the nearly indigestible food I added more ketchup. Every bite of cooked cow was covered in more, each fry personally coated for maximum coverage. Only after the exposed surface of the food was colored bright red could I dive into the meal.
I can’t think of another culture that covers their food in as much of a potent condiment as us Americans do with ketchup. It is used without restraint, offered at every fast-food restaurant and a requirement for many if there is a basket of fries nearby. Its pervasiveness is disturbing to me, and my own consumption of it makes me question how I view food. I accepted that it would be of poor quality before I had even looked at the meal, and still paid more than the sum of the ingredients to eat it. I am not alone: that night while I waited the few minutes for my food I saw a dozen patrons leave this establishment, each of them with a burgeoning gut and labored to walk the fifty feet to their cars.
We accept poisons, and cover them up with condiments, and pay exorbitantly for them. On one of the very basic tenants of our existence we are resigned, willing to eat whatever slop is pushed in front of us. This makes me conclude that a few of the typical American stereotypes is founded in fact. We eat, and eat anything rolled in butter or fried in trans-fats, and if it is subpar we
drizzle drown it in ketchup. I find myself in the minority searching for flavor bereft of crisco and lard, it had been such a long time since I had chain food from a restaurant that my body rejected it later that day, and its rebellion lasted well into today.
Despite my sentiments and attitude searching and hunting for good food I find myself complacent at times, as I am sure the majority (probably you are included in this category) of us are. I shall be more vigilant- I shall hunt for good, make it if I must, and accept nothing but the beneficial. Food is a necessity to life, and if I can allow the disdainful to enter mouth and grant it passage through the rest of my body how can I think that I couldn’t do the same for more entertaining and intricate aspects of a contented existence?
So ketchup will be shelved, umami can be found in Maillard reactions and well apportioned seasoning instead of through a thickened mixture of tomato paste and vinegar. Vigilance isn’t a difficulty, but a matter of understanding. Understand that food can be easily manipulated to appease our basic human desire for fatty and salty without value (substance) and it may change your opinion on your upcoming gastronomic endeavors. Or, replace every mention of food in this short entry with another facet of continued existence and perhaps an obsequious view can change to be healthier, and happier.