Apparently I had been under the delusion that ketchup is an all-American food, beloved and enjoyed by all on hot dogs, french fries, burgers and other delicious American classics. Sadly, I learned the way the world really works: ketchup is not the favored condiment I presumed it was.
At a graduation luncheon last week, Peter was treated to classic bbq fare. He usually doesn’t mess around with too many condiments, but always puts ketchup and pickles on his burger. Coming to the end of the buffet, he found onions, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, relish, and several types of mustard. No ketchup. Of course he assumed it had been misplaced, so he asked for ketchup, but was told nobody really puts ketchup on their burgers.
What? No! Ketchup is supposed to go on burgers. That is the way the world works. Later, a colleague told Peter mustard is used more around here. Ketchup on burgers is a northern thing.
Judging from the Whataburgers we ate, which specifically had mustard but no ketchup, this idea makes some sense. Though at Whataburger, we were given the option to add our own ketchup from a packet. Most places in California gave you a burger with “special sauce” (Thousand Island dressing) or plain. Neither ketchup nor mustard was forced on us, though I guess I assumed many if not most put ketchup on their burgers.
Not sure if the whole Northern/Southern ketchup thing is real, I started asking around, but have only been getting mixed responses from Victoria natives. Some say using ketchup or not on a burger is not a big deal. Others, including those who catered Peter’s graduation, don’t see ketchup as a worthwhile option for a burger condiment.
Oh, ketchup! Though you have centuries of history as a constant and friendly condiment to people on three continents, it looks like you are only a regional delicacy in the United States. Fear not, old friend, I will enjoy you on my burgers even if others in Texas shun you.