It's Friday and I just tossed a huge pat of butter, two sprigs of rosemary and a handful of crushed cloves of garlic into a sizzling pan. Most of the days the friend and I are Pescatarians, but we can still appreciate a good steak if the cravings hit.
I spend the next few minutes closely monitoring our tender NY strips as they burn in the pan, and casually sipping an Argentinian Malbec Ina garden swagger oozes like the culinary bad bish I was born for .
With a flourish I put our beautiful plates on the table. Before we delve into it, I check the fridge for steak sauce. Say what you want, but it's a nice touch if you're not a hardcore carnivore who enjoys her steak extremely rarely and naked. A few minutes to mix things up and I realize we're out. After a frustrated sigh, I shrug my shoulders and grab the next best thing: a bottle of Heinz ketchup.
Don & # 39; t @ me ̵
1; it's exactly what I like.
I have a feeling that I will get as much hate for this last statement. Before you click away or sag your houses to cleanse the evil concept of ketchup on steak, I would like to point out that I am aware that this is not a practice worthy of a Michelin star. Nobody submits my ketchup-steak pairing for a James Beard Award.
And if ketchup on steak hurts your sensitive sensitivity, you may want to sit down for this next admission. I'm in my thirties and I'm putting almost everything on with ketchup: eggs (scrambled eggs, poached, with the sunny side up, Benedict … I could go on), sandwiches, meat, vegetables, fries, tacos, fried fish – the list goes on.
And yet, ketchup makes me so happy that I really don't care if that upsets you. Sure, it's about how it tastes (spicy-sweet with a sour bite that somehow enriches almost every meal), but it's really about how I feel about it.
Sure, it's for kids, but it helped me grow up  If I had to, I could do my ketchup obsession with the Midwest meat and potato diet of my childhood and the culinary mood of mine Connect Baby Boomer Father who has cooked dinner most nights in my house.
Our The formula for dinner was simple: there was a meat, a potato and a vegetable. They were usually made according to a fancy recipe that my father had dug out of one of his many cookbooks – or, if we were lucky, he would play freestyle like a mad scientist in the kitchen. The food was always served with a piece of butter white bread and a glass of milk. (I think I have the strongest bones in America. To date, I've never broken one, and that's not for lack of experimentation.)
I was a picky eater as a child – like macaroni and hot dogs -everything-I-wanted to be choosy – and my father used ketchup to make me branch. "Give it a try, and if you don't like it, you never have to eat it again" was his rule.
So I came to try and enjoy foods such as meatloaf, rabbit roast, beer. Canned chicken, grilled venison, lamb burger, fish and chips, frog legs (which my father picked up before diving in and used to dance the can – and which supposedly also convinced my mother on her first date), alligator, octopus, keel base, duck and so on.
Ketchup opened the door and then I went out, stuffed my face and never looked back.
It is the safest spice, but it made me adventurous.
When I think of my favorite spice, I realize that this is one of the reasons why I was able to live such a fulfilling life. When I was 8 years old we went on a family vacation in Japan. Japan, where people eat raw fish for breakfast, eel as a snack and sweet scrambled eggs for dinner. For the right palate, it is a culinary paradise. It was also the best opportunity for an American child to scream for chicken nuggets like the epitome of intercultural grace for two weeks.
Thanks to my father, however, I had been eating sushi and squid since I was 5 or 6. We started with chicken teriyaki (with a side of ketchup, of course) and from there we made our way through the menu.
When I was 16 and made my first trip abroad to Italy just a week later. My mother had died of cancer. I found comfort, healing, and even bravery in the overflow of tomato dishes that went down like a warm hug. I spent my days lighting candles in Renaissance churches for my mother and then placing plates of cheeky carbohydrates in honor of my father.
Although this was definitely the most difficult moment of my life, I felt more joy than grief every day and somehow I came home completely than when I left.
I spent several weeks in college in London and Paris, where I ate creamy stouts with fish and chips, decadent tartar steak, snails, duck à l'orange and crepes filled with chocolate and bananas. On the days I was homesick I ordered french fries or a croque madame with ketchup and everything would be fine.
The real reason I'm so pro ketchup? It connects me with my childhood and my father when they feel far away.
Even now as I write this from my home in Columbus, Ohio, a 30-year-old woman is trying to navigate student loans and ask questions about whether my boyfriend and I will ever get married and have a baby, one Survive global pandemic, worry about anxiety and ADHD diagnosis, and wonder if climate change will wipe out the earth before I had time to find out what I'm doing here – a dash of ketchup can take me straight back to my youth's kitchen table.
I just came in after a heated flag-catching game. There is still dirt in my hair and I have a scratch on my knee as I sit down and wait for the food. My father is in the kitchen, tormenting himself that his latest creation was a disaster (it wasn't) and that it hadn't gotten exactly right (it was). My mother watches TV while she folds laundry.
My father finally throws up his hands and tells us to grab a plate. We sit down with our juicy meatloaf, roasted vegetables, sandwiches and glasses of milk. My father gives me the bottle of ketchup with a sly smile and for a moment everything is absolutely perfect.