- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (April 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611170176
- ISBN-13: 978-1611170177
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,378,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment Paperback – April 15, 2011
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"Most Americans think that ketchup is an American invention. Most Americans think it was always made of tomatoes. But anyone who wants the real story on ketchup will have to read Pure Ketchup."--Karen Hess, coauthor of The Taste of America
"The book starts out as a sweeping history--ketchup in the ancient Mediterranean, ketchup evolving with the help of the British Empire--but finds its stride in an amazing variety of fun historical nuggets Smith uncovered about ketchup's evolution."--Associated Press
"If you want to catch up on everything there is to know about America's favorite sauce, then Andy Smith's [book] will be what you are looking for. . . . Fascinating."--Food History News
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This book is otherwise a fascinating and fact filled history of the condiment that only an un-American subversive would fail to gobble up with fries. Starting with the origin of the word - "kecap" (Indonesia), "kê-tsiap" (Vietnam?), "escaveche" (France), "iskebêy" (Arab) - Smith describes the evolution of ketchup, or catchup, or catsup, from the old days in Europe, when it was made from everything imaginable (grapes, cucumbers, walnuts, oysters, cherries, mushrooms, apples, apricots, gooseberries, currants, anchovies, cranberries), to the present, when it's a distinctly American food made from tomatoes.
In the chapter on the growth of the U.S. ketchup industry in the nineteenth century, the author goes to extreme lengths to name seemingly all the manufacturers of the period and every brand name they marketed. Smith followed the same course in his book on popcorn, POPPED CULTURE. I continue to regard his commendable attention to such detail excessive, but I shan't dwell on it here because I liked PURE KETCHUP more than the other anyway. The best chapter, for me, was the lengthiest one, which describes the bitter battle between pure-food adherents advocating the manufacture of ketchup without preservatives and those espousing the use of such, specifically benzoates. The two camps flailed away at each other for years to the point that even the eventual victor staggered away exhausted. The story of this acrimony might just as well illustrate the course of any debate over food additives or processing, whether it's MSG, aspartame, food irradiation, or the looming conflict over the fat and calorie content of fast foods. As for me, I'm perfectly happy to find the ketchup with the highest content of preservatives, pour it on the biggest order of fries I can buy, and thumb my nose at the Nutrition Gestapo while I chow down.
For me, perhaps the major fault of PURE KETCHUP is that it failed to mention, much less define, the place of barbecue and steak sauces in the genealogy of ketchup, if indeed they're related. I was in the supermarket today, and the brands of barbecue sauce far outnumber those of ketchup, and the labels of all I checked included a tomato derivative. So, what about those Andy? (Since Smith and I exchanged friendly emails concerning POPPED CULTURE, perhaps he'll read this and enlighten me.)