Just about everybody has a bottle of this handy. It’s the stuff children are raised on. The elixir of life, almost.

Some come late to the party though – as a young child I strongly distrusted the word ‘Ketchup’ and wouldn’t eat it.

Heinz Tomato Sauce
Heinz Tomato Ketchup

Aged 13 I finally summed up the courage to tell my parents of my fears, when they kept asking me why I refused it. They looked the word up for me. It is probably of Chinese origin, koe chiap, meaning ‘pickled fish brine’. It dates back to at least 1711, from the Chinese community in the northern Vietnam area.

The word was taken to the west, as something you could serve with your food to make your meal more palatable. I imagine food could be pretty putrid in 1711 if adding pickled fish brine improved it!

Curiously, this secret knowledge – well, none of my friends knew what ‘Ketchup’ really meant – suddenly made Ketchup acceptable to me, and I’ve been eating it happily ever since.

koechiap
‘Pickled Fish Brine’

It probably needs no rating, but just in case you too are Ketchup-phobic:

Unique, very mild, sweet, moreish. Not recognisably what a fresh tomato tastes like, but very pleasant never-the-less. Lubricates food that is boring otherwise, like potato. Also, a dollop adds a little roundness to pasta sauces made with fresh tomatoes – probably the sugar content of the Ketchup does this trick.

You can easily make your own home-made version of tomato sauce, and it is pretty much guaranteed to taste better, be more sophisticated, more spicy, fresher – better all round. Serve Heinz Tomato Ketchup at a dinner party instead of your home-made tomato sauce and the adults will laugh. But serve your home-made tomato sauce to children instead of Heinz Tomato Ketchup and the children will cry!