The trouble with condiments | Writing | Food Newsie

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The trouble with condiments

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The trouble with condiments

Aren’t we all looking for a way to slow down, unplug and do something meaningful for ourselves and community or family? Then how about tackling condiments? They’re the craziest damn things to make in the kitchen, last weeks on end, get used in tons of stuff we’d rather make and, if we take the shortcut and buy them from the store, provide most of the un-healthiest ingredients we could ask for. We all have a cookie recipe, why not a mustard or ketchup or relish or mayo recipe?

There really is a need here and I burst out laughing aloud when I read the top story in a technology news feed. An NSA worker, freshly amidst NSA talk and national discussion, posted a blog entitled, “An Inside View.” He opens with the admission that he’s a spy. He continues by defending the work of the NSA, telling the American people to calm down and finishes by revealing that he’s made some mayonnaise. We can support his efforts on Kickstarter. Outside of his foodie work, there’s not much to warrant that post as a leading story on any site but this. Ahem. Congratulations!

What Loren Sands-Ramshaw, professional cyber-sleuth and American spy has put his finger on is not that change is needed at the NSA, but that there is a real demand for better condiments that’s artificially being met in the grocery aisles. His Kickstarter page points out that Olive Oil Mayo ingredients are headed by Canola oil; a very terrible, over-processed candidate for worsening your health. The trouble with condiments is that a majority of their ingredients are over processed. That slippery stuff appears everywhere along with its brothers, mustard, ketchup, pickled relish, BBQ Sauce and the great American Ranch Dressing.

Though I’m a recently self-diagnosed Food Snob for which no cure is needed, I take no issue with cakes made from boxed ingredients, hamburger helpers, dehydrated mashed potatoes and the like. I’m a grisly bear when Pop Tarts come out of the toaster; hot little rectangles of… something. I eat’em. Don’t get between us. But I feel that it’s important to KNOW what good food is. Producing it all the time is, frankly, 99% impossible in these wired times.

What I’m putting forward here are the little things – what makes a Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop Tart better? Melted butter on the back; REAL butter, from at least one real animal. What makes meatloaf even better? Your own ketchup, cooked up weeks ago with a sachet of spices and made with your favorite tomatoes – what’s so great about 57 varieties of tomato? Should I then be trying to fit 57 cheeses on a cracker? Am I missing out? – Best salmon I ever had? With my own stout mustard aged three days thickening, getting zestier and fit to gift on my counter. That lasted me six months! – My own BBQ Sauce? Forget it! Everyone I know asks when I’ll make it again; a gallon at a time still lasts only a few nights.

Point is, those little details that you guarantee the ingredients of not only get you closer to a meaningful chore that makes the house smell good, but later ensure that meals in which those condiments play a role are healthier, tastier and more exotic than anything you can buy. I believe that Loren Sands-Ramshaw is genuinely trying to make good mayonnaise because the value of a safe and happy home is clearly at the front of his mind. It all starts with food, even a healthy nation of neighborly communities.

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