Saturday, April 13, 2019

No ketchup/catsup on (hot) dogs!!!

I couldn’t help but get my chuckle when I stumbled this week on the Facebook page that Vienna Beef uses to advertise its meat products.
Evidence of a 'crime?' Photo provided by Vienna Beef
The staged photo purports to be a hot dog vendor in the act of being arrested for committing the “unspeakable offense” of slathering a hot dog with ketchup.

WHICH, OF COURSE, led to a lengthy and spirited debate over one of the ultimate issues of triviality that people use in an attempt to verify the legitimacy of their Chicago-ness.

Ketchup on the hot dog. Or more like it, a lack of ketchup. As in only a total rube would think to use the icky sweet condiment when eating a sausage. What next – you’re going to argue in favor of those thin crust slices of pizza that New Yawkers think are special because they can be folded in half while you eat them? Don't even get me started on the notion of sauerkraut-smothered hot dogs!

Now before we go any further, I’ll clarify that I personally would never put ketchup on a hot dog. But then again, I don’t put ketchup on anything I eat.

I wasn’t kidding about the “icky sweet” comment. I think anybody who puts ketchup on anything is obliterating the natural flavor of their food. What’s the point of eating a hot dog if you need to smother it in ketchup.
NOW HAVING SAID that, I also think that people have a right to eat whatever they want to. If they want to ruin their hot dog with ketchup, that’s their choice.

Just don’t expect me to argue on your behalf that there’s nothing wrong with your use of ketchup. The “American Way” with all its freedom of expression may defend to the death your right to use ketchup on a hot dog.

But it also defends the right of myself and everybody else who realizes mustard, particularly a sharp spicy one, is truly the only basic condiment of choice to ridicule your ketchup practices to the death.

You use ketchup at your own risk to your culinary reputation. Don’t argue with me otherwise – you brought it on yourself! You’re ridiculed solely because of your own doing.

SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, I have to admit to the Facebook-oriented debate taking place on this “issue” is kind of scary. At least to the degree to which certain types of people are taking this seriously.

Aren’t there issues much more serious for us to worry about? If anything, I’d be more concerned about the actual content of the “meat” used in putting together hot dogs – just how disgusting is something sold under the “Oscar Mayer” brand name.

And is anything sold under a brand name implying kosher status with a Star of David logo attached truly any more pure a meat product than something sold in the supermarket aisle at a discount price?
Instead, we’re worked up over ketchup. Or maybe “catsup,” as some people persist in wanting to spell the condiment.

NOW I KNOW people who insist on using ketchup who claim it’s the way they’ve always eaten a hot dog going back to childhood. In fact, the Facebook debate included one person defending the use of ketchup as being reminiscent of the grammar school cafeteria when the ‘hot’ lunch was a hot dog with ketchup and mustard.

Personally, I’d think that’s more of an argument against ketchup – there were a lot of disgusting things we ate as kids because we didn’t know better.
Just like my own memories of school lunch included the pizza slices that, to be even then, seemed flavorless with its crumbs of sausage and ketchupy-like sauce – and were a large part of the reason why as a kid I didn’t care for pizza from anywhere. It took the introduction of Due’s later in life to make me realize something significant was missing.

Now for those of you dismissing this argument as trivial, I’ll admit it is. I promise we’ll get back to serious issues in coming days. Although “serious” could easily delve down to the proper composition of an Italian beef sandwich – where I like onions added and think some people go way too overboard with the giardiniera -- and I agree with a one-time editor of mine who insisted that the gyro was made from the worst cuts of meat.


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