By Mike Viso
I honestly believe that all people have their quirks. Some are good, like my uncle that checks his nose three times and sniffs before getting out his car. You have to respect a man that is worried about a clean nose because there’s no comfortable way to say,
“Uhh, you have something in your nose. You should probably use a tissue.”
Other quirks aren’t so easy to understand, like washing a dish before you put it in the dishwasher. Please realize that film from the soap will build up!
Okay, now that that’s off my chest, I must admit that I’m way too quirky for my own good. So I’ve convinced myself that it’s good because it helps me think outside of the box for articles like this. Now, I’ll tell you about a couple of my odd habits to give you a sense of what you’re dealing with.
I have to wear a belt loosely because it makes me claustrophobic, I’m terrified of heights and want to go sky diving so badly, I hate when people refer to someone you obviously don’t know by their first name with no description and—for good measure—I like my desk/room messy so I can find things.
How does this all tie into food? Well, I decided to do a top 10 list of foods that should be combined in one way, shape, or form with ketchup. I love ketchup more than you can imagine. I decide how much I like someone by how long I’d live without ketchup for them. For example, I would give up ketchup forever if my mother asked. Although, I wouldn’t be happy about it. But if you’re a co-worker that doesn’t understand the genius that is Arrested Development, I probably would squirt ketchup into my mouth straight from the bottle because I want you to disappear as fast as humanly possible. I’ll probably personally blame you and your family for not watching and giving the show higher ratings, which is why it got canceled. Jerks.
Okay, so let’s go with the top 10 foods that need to be ketchupized:
Steamed vegetables: I love vegetables and—as you may be noticing—I love ketchup. I was bored one day and decided to dip steamed broccoli into my ketchup and magic was born. Simple. Also, I hate fruit. I eat about five pieces of whole fruit a year.
Macaroni and cheese: I can’t remember how this one started in my life, but I know I can’t eat mac and cheese without it. The lone exception is KFC mac and cheese. Either way, I’ve continued to do this because I don’t like a lot of butter and it’s rarely cheesy enough. The ketchup adds a sweetness, coolness and different texture. Ketchup on fresh mac and cheese is very good, it’s a gift from the ketchup gods when you put it on a reheated bowl of the cheesy goodness.
Grilled cheese: Do you ever notice how horrible you feel after eating a grilled cheese? My chest hurts, my body is greasy, I’m sweating. I only eat a grilled cheese when I know I can take a shower within the hour. That being said, I LOVE THEM. If you really want to be crazy, throw some tomato slices and bacon on there. As Jim Gaffigan says, “Bacon is so good that they wrap other foods in it to make it taste better.”
Maybe it’s in my head, but the ketchup makes me feel like it dilutes the grease. I feel a little less sick after eating a grilled cheese with ketchup.
Mashed potatoes: Be honest with me on this please. Mashed potatoes are never flavorful enough. You know it’s true. Most people douse them with salt, pepper, garlic or any number of spices. Don’t judge me for adding something that’s sweet to a bland tasting food. Oddly, I really like reheated mashed potatoes.
Pancakes: I concede that this is by far the grossest one. However, it does reach the top spot because I don’t really like it. It does make this list because I’ve added ketchup to pancakes on several occasions for the same reason. There was NOTHING else available. When it’s 3am and you’re working in a radio station, there’s limited amounts of butter, jelly, peanut butter, cream cheese, anything that you can think of as a flavorful lubricant. I had to make due, so I did. I’m not proud, I didn’t love it, but it’s better than eating plain pancakes. Plain pancakes are like eating dry gum that soaks out all of your saliva. Vile.
Chips: I blame the Heinz and Herr’s companies for this one. I’m not a huge chip guy, aside from salt and vinegar. When they introduced ketchup chips, it felt as if they were marketing directly to me. I felt like I owed it to them to eat them because I figured I was one of 38 people that would enjoy these in the world. However, when I was reading about chips I saw that ketchup chips are HUGE in Canada. We really don’t know anything about our cousins to the North, do we? I haven’t seen ketchup chips much anymore, but I did see you can buy a case for $25.35. Pony up the dough for a nice conversation piece and peace offering to your Canadian foes.
White Rice: I love rice, white or yellow, it doesn’t matter. However, I use Italian dressing on yellow rice. With white, ketchup is the way to go. If you have an opportunity to make white rice with corned beef and hash, do it! It is in my top three and I can’t make it. I really haven’t attempted it because my mother and grandmother are experts. Everyone in America knows about Mexican food, but Puerto Rican food is better and isn’t as rough on the stomach and esophagus. It adds a sweet and flavorful element that you don’t get very often with Mexican food.
String beans: I’m pretty normal when it comes to canned veggies. Except when it comes to string beans. They are my favorite vegetable, probably because they work so well with ketchup. They also work well as a mixer in mashed potatoes.
Fettuccine Alfredo: I’m not really proud of this one, but if I’m going to disgrace my Puerto Rican heritage, it’s only fair that I disgrace my Italian side too. I really like fettuccine alfredo and I have eaten it plain and enjoyed it. I just prefer ketchup. I was a big “mixer” as a kid and remain daring when it comes to mixing things together that probably shouldn’t go together. You may judge me on this one.
Peanut butter and eggs: This was actually inspired by “V For Vendetta”. I never had the British breakfast, eggy in a basket. It’s a simple dish that includes frying up bread and egg in the bread. Well, I thought it was simple. I blame my grandfather for never using any directions, sign of an amazing natural cook, and so I think I can too. Needless to say, it didn’t go so well frying the bread. I decided to keep those pieces, fry the eggs, toast the bread in a toaster and add peanut butter to the bread. By divine ketchup intervention, the eggs with ketchup hit the peanut butter and magic was born. I really like to add chili powder and/or garlic powder. However, you must layer it. Bread, chili powder, egg, garlic powder, ketchup, glob of peanut butter and then enjoy!
After reading the oddities above, I know you must have a few thoughts. First, I’m not insane and I was born with taste buds. Second, my family comes from a line of amazing cooks. It isn’t just bias, it’s pretty legitimate because of reviews from outsources. Third, no, I don’t over use ketchup in my other recipes. I try to avoid it because I know people don’t like it as much as I do. I always taste food without ketchup first. I even try to not use it for the first few times I eat a dish so I can analyze the flavors. It’s like watching a movie a few times in silence before inviting that friend we all have who won’t shut up.
Lastly, yes, I do expect you to try these and report back. You can check me out on Facebook or on Twitter (@mikeviso). Maybe you have some interesting spice or condiment that you use. Tell me about it.