Condiment showdown! (sandwich only)
“All the while the courses came and went. A thick soup of barley and venison. Salads of sweetgrass and spinach and plums, sprinkled with crushed nuts. Snails in honey and garlic."
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Taste is a funny thing. Obviously, each human being has different tastes, and there’s almost nothing that everyone agrees upon either liking or hating. If you need evidence of this consider the wide swinging of the pendulum that includes some people who find drinking water to be disgusting and other people who actively try to contract HIV. I’m not here to pass any judgment on anyone’s taste, but I will say that both of those fall well outside the realm of anything having to do with how my tastes align.
Taste is often a fun thing to debate. “Yo, you think Rush SUCKS? Listen, you may not like their music, but you gotta admit that they’re amazing musicians, right?” is a good example of trying to debate taste. Personally, I don’t find technical virtuosity on its own to be indicative of anything particularly interesting. There are plenty of dudes in their bedrooms shredding scales faster than the speed of sound, but that doesn’t make ‘em ‘good’ to me. This is simply my taste with regards to this matter. If I don’t dig the choices you’re making musically, I really don’t care how hard they were to do. Conversely, if you have a song or a part that’s awesome, I don’t care if your voice sounds like shit or your guitar playing is sloppy as hell. If you can make it work, it’s good.
But that’s just me. I recognize that there’s an argument for technical prowess above all else, and hey man, that’s cool too. That’s a fun argument to have about taste. In some cases, arguments about taste can actually sway people. I have definitely thought I hated something only to have someone more attuned than I am point out that it’s actually a work of subtle irony, or I was willfully misinterpreting the work, or even that I should just go back and revisit something with an open mind. When it comes to art, debates about taste are not only inevitable, they’re potentially awesome, and even kinda important. Any good art should arouse a little debate, right? If I’m the arbiter of taste here, I’d say the answer is yes, but some people out there probably feel differently. That’s cool. Life is a many splendored rainbow and so forth, innit?
One aspect of taste in which there can be no debate, however, is actual taste. If you think something tastes like shit, it tastes like shit. You can’t argue your tongue into wanting to lick a diaper (or into NOT wanting to lick a diaper, I guess, if that’s the way you’re wired), and there are plenty of foodstuffs out there that draw wildly different responses when sampled.
So, with that said, I’m gonna be doing a condiment round up with the mutual understanding that this is just my take on this stuff. I’m not trying to convince you of anything here, but I would like to hear what you think in the comments, especially if you’ve got some wild ass tastebud situation.
Okay, ready to get started? This one’s gonna be fun. First up:
Man, right out of the gate, we’re courting some controversy here. I know some people love ketchup and swear it’s the number one condiment. So ubiquitous is our national love of ketchup that it appears on almost every table in every affordable restaurant in America. If memory serves me, when my mom went to China in the 80s, the family she stayed with presented her with a bottle of ketchup as a gift to make her feel more at home. Ah, ketchup: The culinary manifestation of the red stripes in our flag, and so forth.
Anyway, I think ketchup is fucking gross. I know! You do not. I’m not trying to convince you to come over to the dark side at all. If you like ketchup, I’ll defend to the death your right to have ketchup, but to me, to ME, mind you, the idea of a tomato puree loaded down with more sugar than a fucking pepsi that glogs out of the bottle with a granular jizz like consistency and a blood red hue is gnarly. I’m aware that perhaps it’s just me.
Of course, as I’m from Chicago, it would be irresponsible of me not to address the notion of putting ketchup on a hot dog. For those of you who don’t know, ketchup is NOT for Chicago hot dogs, and some hot dog stands will quite literally kick you out for asking for it. Whatever. A little civic quirk is fun and all, but I do think it’s weird that I could spread a dog turd on my hotdog and raise fewer eyebrows in this town than I would if I applied a slim stripe of ketchup.
Kids like ketchup (which makes sense since it’s essentially a tomato smoothie), and kids like hotdogs, and lots of adults have affection for stuff they enjoyed as kids, and frankly I don’t see any good reason to deny anyone a little ketchup on their hotdog if that’s what they’re feeling.
THAT being said, ketchup is a strange condiment in that, for its ubiquity presence-wise, it’s actually only appropriate on select items. French fries are obviously the number one ketchup vehicle (and I am aware that lots of people consider fries to be just that...the thing that gets the ketchup into them and that’s all), followed by the hamburger. Up next is the hotly contested hotdog, and then, in fourth place is eggs, which is arguably just as questionable as hotdogs to a lot of people (I include the breakfast potato here along with the eggs, but I could also include them with the fries...whatever. You get the idea).
Then, there’s a HUGE drop off. What’s next? I literally don’t know. You’d have to be some kind of whimsically gritty great depression era geezer to put ketchup on like, a baloney sandwich, right? Hell, there’s literally NO sandwich besides a burger where applying ketchup doesn’t seem weird to me (I’m not getting into what is and isn’t a sandwich today, maybe some other time). Um...maybe you put it on shrimp because cocktail sauce is too exotic for you or something, but I honestly can’t think of another thing that ketchup even kinda goes on. I’m sure I’m forgetting something and please feel free to let me know all about it in the comments. I will just conclude by saying the only place I like ketchup is in the trash.
Oh. Man. Now we’re talking. Mustard, ketchup’s more interesting crime fighting partner is truly one of the best condiments in the world, if for no other reason than for its versatility. The vinegar base of mustard makes it great for cooking and marinades and that type of shit, but it’s good as a sauce, as a dip, and as a spread. There’s that one really tangential guy from the lame half of Jackass who once said that mustard was the grossest thing on earth. I believe his exact words were that it was second only to period blood.
First, this guy obviously is dumb for A) being kind of a 12 year old mysogynyist dummy about icky periods (grow up, dork), B) allowing himself to be a 6th tier member of Jackass, thereby inviting massive amounts of public humiliation with neither name recognition nor money to ease the sting of said global embarrassment and C) telling the other dipshits in Bam’s crew that he hates mustard with a fervor, all but guaranteeing that he will, at some point, end up swimming in a vat of mustard. But the big thing is that I don’t know if I even buy it. I don’t see how you can hate mustard that much. It’s just seeds. I mean, I get not liking it, but finding it to be revolting? I suppose it’s possible. But still...
Mustard’s so versatile. There’s hot, regular, sriracha infused, honey mustard (not my favorite...I’m not a huge fan of sweet things, generally), horseradish mustard, that chinese food mustard and it’s very similar cousin that mustard that results when you add water to mustard powder. Even McDonalds has a dope ass mustard (I’m referring of course to the hot mustard sauce that comes with nuggets [sadly discontinued in Chicago]). Mustard fucking rules. It’s TOTALLY awesome on pretty much anything that’s not sweet and I dunno...it’s not gross. It’s a seed. It’s good. There’s a hotdog place in the Chicagoland area called Mustard’s Last Stand, which I think is a pretty good name. Mustard’s cool, man. That’s all. Okay, I have a lot of these to do. I’m gonna have to start being a little more concise.
If you’re the kinda person that hates mayo, I tooootally get it. Mayo is gross. Once I was describing someone I thought was disgusting (in fairness, this person was really a shithead) and I said he looks like he jizzes mayonnaise. That is a gross image, and that’s in no small part because mayo itself is gross (although now that I think about it, saying someone looks like they jizz ketchup OR mustard is actually grosser...anyway). That being said, I like mayo. I would even say it’s CRUCIAL in a lot of sandwich situations. I’m not gonna argue that YOU should like mayo, because I can intellectually understand why someone would hate it. Hell, I wish I hated it, to be honest. It looks gnarly, reeks of pre-gout decadence, implies dripping fat hanging off not only your sandwich but also your flesh, and, as we’ve just discussed, mustard, a more ubiquitous condiment, is always right there to make potato salad or deviled eggs or whatever with, and it’s not gross at all.
Still...I like mayo, and it tears me up inside (figuratively). I would liken it to what I imagine being really into some sort of deviant, frowned upon sex is like. So like, if you love fucking kids, for example, you know on some level that it’s gross and wrong, but stilll...you love it. All the shame of that knowledge doesn’t mean a smear of kid fucking on your sandwich wouldn’t make it a WAY better sandwich experience in your book, no matter what polite society thinks. That’s mayo. I know it’s gross, but I don’t care. I like it a lot (unlike kid fucking which i have no interest in, it’s just a metaphor folks).
I used to order my sandwiches with no mayo...I convinced myself that it was bad and fatty and I didn’t need it, but if they fucked up my order and it accidentally came with mayo on it, I’d make a cursory show of being bummed for the cameras, but secretly I’d be like “YES!” and I’d enjoy what would end up being a vastly superior sandwich. I know. Mayo is gross. Throw your stones. Sheesh. It’s not like I’m fucking kids over here.
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