As if the last year hasn’t presented enough challenges that even Gabriel García Márquez or Thomas Mann might have had trouble navigating, there now appears to be a ketchup crisis that is emotionally crippling the vast number of Americans who eat fries with every meal.
While the grocery stores have plenty of the ketchup that comes in those squeezable bottles that cannot remain upright, the chain drive-thru restaurants have been forced to ration the little plastic packets of a condiment that began life in either China or Great Britain as a sauce made from anchovies, mussels and walnuts, among other odd ingredients.
I’m guessing it was the Brits who were so desperate to create something that would improve England’s food.
There was a time when those little packets were tossed into to-go bags of alleged food by the handful—much like candy at Halloween. At year’s end, many a kitchen drawer was filled with them, along with similar packets of soy sauce, unopened Fortune Cookies and rolls of plastic bags to pick up dog poop. But the demand for the packets has forced retailers to limit their distribution to one packet per order, barely enough to coat the ends of more than four or five fries. This is a cruel dilemma for those who regularly eat in their vehicles and haven’t thought to keep a bottle of ketchup in the glove compartment—a beneath-the-dashboard bin in which gloves have never been kept.
Allegedly, this shortage has been created by those unwilling to share the bottles of ketchup found on many restaurant tabletops or use the pump dispensers near the soda machines because of a possible exposure to COVID-19. But since most of the fast food joints have been closed to dine-in customers since the middle of March 2020, that makes no sense. And many of those same people afraid to share ketchup also believe that wearing masks is an infringement of their rights. Go figure.
To simplify a national food crisis with the idea that people are merely picking up more food to-go, is to deny our current reality.
What does make sense, of course, is a dark government conspiracy—orchestrated by Joe Biden and John Kerry (who married into the Heinz family and reportedly has eleven private jets, ten of which are always airborne)—to create ketchup shortages that would increase the value of each packet by at least thirty percent.
The nutritional value of ketchup was determined during the Reagan Administration when it was designated a vegetable (the ketchup, not Reagan), and a minimum daily consumption recommendation was established at six ounces. Now it’s time, ketchup producers say, to make more money.
I’m not sure how ketchup became the favorite sauce in which to dunk a deep-fried strip of potato. It should never have happened.
In Belgium, where French fries were invented when some chef was trying to create a potato chip for the newly established Frito-Lay company, fries are consumed with a sauce of a “ketchup-like” substance of dubious origin and sprinkled with diced raw onion.
In Spain, fries are known as patata fritas, a popular tapas that are usually served with packets of spicy salsa from Taco Bell.
France claims to have pretty much created every culinary contribution in history, without ever acknowledging that everything they know about food was learned from Italians. Nonetheless, pommes frites, with which Thomas Jefferson seemed so enamored, are served with homemade mayonnaise or a Mornay sauce with Gruyère cheese.
That sauce, delicate unless used on the Kentucky state sandwich of turkey and bacon called a Hot Brown, no doubt inspired the people of Quebec, Canada, to create poutine. Maybe. Poutine is made with fries, cheese curds and brown gravy, and has become as revered in that province as has barbecue in Texas, hot dogs in Chicago, cheese steaks in Philadelphia, and corn dogs in Iowa.
I had poutine once. Once was more than enough.
Ireland, the island nation whose citizenry refused to eat fish during the famous potato famine—choosing instead to emigrate to Boston or starve to death—does not have French fries. Potatoes are eaten boiled. Period.
But back to ketchup, which in the time of this pandemic has been called the “new toilet paper.” I find that to be a rather disturbing image.
In this time of condiment hardship, I would suggest that people broaden their horizons and dip into new sauces. For a ketchup lover, such a suggestion may seem as unseemly as asking a Proud Boy to give up his automatic weapon, but I believe it’s a sacrifice we need to make.
It’s also the only way to thwart Biden’s evil plan to upset this nation’s dietary code and line the pockets of ketchup moguls, who are currently adding secret ingredients that will, when exposed to the gamma rays of G5 transmitters, allow Bill Gates to know where each of us are 24/7. The new, improved ketchup will also act as a booster vaccine to combat COVID-19.
The anti-vaxxers will need to make a condiment switch, leading the nation away from the newly hatched plot by the unhinged radical liberal that is Joe Biden. His behavior from the Oval Office is clearly out of control. He’s obviously coming after our guns, as well as our ketchup, and is promoting a commie agenda that encompasses the ideas of equality, a clean environment, the well-being of us all, and civil rights, human rights and voting rights.
This madness has to stop.
Clearly, there will be a shift of the earth’s axis as thirty percent of the country switches to mayonnaise for its fries.
Photo creation by Courtney A. Liska
6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth.
When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat and cover until cool.
Chill and store refrigerated in a covered container.