Friday, February 22, 2008

Pass the Mustard, Hold the Ketchup

Last week, I wrote about Frank Bruni's review of the 2nd Avenues Deli. In it, Bruni off-handedly made a comment,
"I wasn't much for mustard."
This stopped me short when I read it. Even though I always try the pastrami before I add mustard, mustard really is a necessary condiment for me and my pastrami sandwich. Some readers were curious to know, "Was Bruni condiment challenged and a mustard hater?" One distressed reader even pointed him to the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum as a remedy. Bruni wrote a separate clarification of about this in his Dining Journal blog, specifying that he did, in fact, appreciate mustard, just not on his pastrami sandwich.

Now, ketchup...ketchup, on the other hand, demands a moral statement, especially in regard to family dinner. So I'll say it:
"I am strictly against ketchup."
Unless it is for a designated ketchup-approved food, such as french fries, hot dogs, or hamburgers, I forbid my kids to use it. Sometimes in a restaurant I bend, but not without much eye-rolling. The reason should be obvious to any parent. Kids use ketchup to camouflage food, and many kids get addicted to the sweet stuff. I know it seems like a harmless condiment, but ketchup is the enemy of the kid palate. Parents don't kid yourself: They are not really trying new foods if they are covered in ketchup. They are not even eating eggs or chicken, or whatever it is, if the food is totally immersed in ketchup. They are eating ketchup.

Since I'm an everything-in-moderation-kind-of person, some of my friends are surprised by my hard line on this. But I tell you, along with mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets (which I do occasionally serve), ketchup is the gateway drug to picky eating. Beware.

More reading about Kids and Ketchup:
Kids and Ketchup: Is Ketchup a Healthy Food Group? Associated Content Nov. 21, 2007
What to Do when Your Kid Only Wants Ketchup Associated Content July 5, 2007
Is Ketchup a Vegetable? BabyZone
The Green Ketchup Phenomenon The Supermarket Guru, Feb. 27, 2002

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