Thursday, August 06, 2009

One ketchup and so many mustards

In a very interesting blog post, Wired Magazine contributing editor Jonah Lehrer explains why, when I look in my fridge, I see about six different mustards but only one ketchup. According to Lehrer, it all boils down to one word: umami. Among the many informative bits in his post....

"What does umami have to do with ketchup? It turns out ketchup is an umami speedball. Ripe tomatoes are full of L-glutamate, and so when all those tomatoes are cooked and reduced, and then cooked some more, the end result is a sauce brimming with delicious amino-acids. In fact, it is the umami note in ketchup - a mouth-filling savoriness, a low basso profundo note - that I most crave when squirting Heinz onto my fries. The deep-fried potato starch is delicious yet incomplete - it is the umami of ketchup that completes it."

Turns out ketchup is all about the mouth, whereas mustard is all about the nose (and with a nose like mine, it's no wonder I have so many!). Check out his article, so the next time your kid squirts ketchup on their ice cream, it won't be quite so disturbing.

Thanks to @steamykitchen on twitter for the tip
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Anonymous said...

Catsup used to be made from all sorts of different veggies. It was Heinz who popularized ripe tomato catsup. My guess is the "real" reason for its popularity is the high levels of salt and corn syrup; that is enough to get any kid to shovel it in...

Pat Costa

Anonymous said...

Add a second... Dulcet Peppery Moroccan Ketchup- yum!

bb said...'re probably right about the corn syrup-popularity theory. It certainly worked with me. About the only thing I...somewhat with corn syrup.

And Moroccan ketchup?? THAT sounds amazing!