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Saint-Ex Ketchup

I'm in Sparky's and there's a dude here talking to another dude who's new in town, telling him about the good places to go:

Dude One: Then there's Saint-Ex, it's a cool bar downstairs and also good food. They have their own homemade ketchup.

New Guy: Homemade ketchup, wow, that's a lost art.

Dude One: It is. Actually, though, I don't like it very much.

New Guy: To tell the truth, neither do I.
It's time for the madness to end. For far too long the residents of the U Street/14th Street area have been plagued by the gross, gross ketchup served at Cafe Saint-Ex. Yes, it seems fancy and highbrow. But it tastes bad. Much worse than Heinz. And lots of people -- myself included, until recently -- are afraid to speak up and say that it tastes bad for fear of appearing unsophisticated. But as Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out it's a scientific fact (really) that Heinz ketchup is the best of all possible ketchups. So have no fear of speaking your mind. The Saint-Ex ketchup is bad, pretentious, and bad. Give us some Heinz. Please. Beyond that, the place is starting to suffer from a serious case of "no one goes there anymore, it's too crowded" syndrome.

February 13, 2005 | Permalink


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» The Perfect Ketchup from Blog, Jvstin Style
Matthew Yglesias: Saint-Ex Ketchup Matthew Yglesias has a lighthearted blog post on, of all things, Ketchup. He links to an article in the New Yorker explaining why Heinz Ketchup is as close to an ideal ketchup as you wil get.... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 13, 2005 8:38:45 PM

» Ketchup from SymphonicMan.com
From the everything you ever wanted to know about ______, but were afraid to ask dept. comes this New Yorker article (hat tip: Matthew Yglesias). Besides the revelation that Heinz ketchup is objectively perfect, there's also a discussion of the... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 14, 2005 10:15:56 AM


New Guy: Homemade ketchup, wow, that's a lost art.

It is? Must be a regional thing.

Clark: Real tomato ketchup, Eddie?

Cousin Eddie: Oh, nothing but the best.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Feb 13, 2005 3:09:07 PM

Ketchup is of Asian origin. Really. So are Worcestershire sauce and marmalade, IIRC. (And Vindaloo, of course, but everyone knew that).

Ketchup includes tomatoes, vinegar, salt, water, garlic, and maybe some sugar or other spice. Where's the harm in that? An international Mexican-Asian-American sauce made of healthy vegan ingredients. Reagan was right.

Mexican because of the tomatoes, which the Spanish brought to the Philippines where the sauce was developed by local Chinese cooks. According to one theory. The other says it came from British India.

So the food snobs are all wrong about ketchup.

Posted by: John Emerson | Feb 13, 2005 3:16:01 PM

That New Yorker article was great. After reading it, I never think of Heinz the same. Who knew it was the perfect product?

Posted by: Jim E. | Feb 13, 2005 3:22:04 PM

Ketchup is... what?... corn syrup, a sprinkle of vinegar and salt for flavor... and a little red dye (a natural pigment obtained from tomatoes if I'm not mistaken).

I'll eat ketchup if it comes on a hamburger by default. That's about it. There are so many condiments with, you know, flavor, that I don't get the whole ketchup thing (even as a kid I preferred Lea & Perrin worcestershire sauce)? Is this another red state/blue state thing. I'm not saying I'm too much of a snob for a burger and fries, just preferably not with ketchup.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Feb 13, 2005 3:22:37 PM

The Gladwell article is interesting but contains a couple of major inaccuracies:

*My mom grew up in Portland (OR) and Beaver Brand (which is delicious, outstanding and comes is several varieties, none of which resemble French's Yellow Semi-gloss) was widely available and consumed. French's was not the only brand on shelves back then, and I would bet good money something similar happened in the Midwest. Putting French's on a brat is sacrilege.

*Grey Poupon is not a better class of mustard than French's; Grey Poupon is mustard-infused lye. It's a very good mustard...for me to Poupon!

OT, Brazilians often eat white rice with a little squeeze of Heinz on top. You mix it up and it is fan-tastic.

Posted by: Adam M | Feb 13, 2005 3:25:45 PM

That Malcom Gladwell article on ketchup is one of my favorites... great and interesting journalism.

And yeah, the crowed at St.Ex seems to have changed of late. The last time I was there it almost seemed like it was Georgetown or something.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Posted by: RC | Feb 13, 2005 3:27:20 PM

WTF is ketchup for? Never use the stuff, myself. Steak? French or Cottage fries? Scrambled eggs?
Meatloaf? Grits? Anything worth eating needs little garnishment. It is an abomination.

On the other hand Heinz is good enough to be eaten with a spoon.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 13, 2005 3:29:12 PM

Liking food, I find no reason for ketchup.

Posted by: lise | Feb 13, 2005 3:31:43 PM

I meant condiment, not garnishment. This Red-State gourmand eats his custom Wendy-burgers with onions,mayonnaise,sliced dill-pickles and lots of melted American. Ummmmm....

Just never liked ketchup.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 13, 2005 3:32:30 PM

I'm not a fan of Grey Poupon, but I always liked Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard. I'll use the bright yellow stuff (including French's) if I have to. It beats ketchup.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Feb 13, 2005 3:32:46 PM

By the way :) Why has there been no mention of Arthur Miller? We complain about the Administration wishing to set aside the New Deal legacy, but ignore a brave voice representing the idealism stemming from time. Curious.

Posted by: lise | Feb 13, 2005 3:35:19 PM

BTW, I would like the record to show that I wrote my post on ketchup mentioning worcestershire before I read John Emerson's. I'm pretty sure the role of corn syrup in the recipe is closer to my statement than Emerson's, but I don't have a bottle handy to check.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Feb 13, 2005 3:37:18 PM

Ketchup is a necessity on a meatloaf sandwich, and can be used on a burger in lieu of fresh tomatoes if starvation is imminent. Its longevity is such that it might be useful as an embalming fluid, but I can't personally vouch for that.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Feb 13, 2005 3:38:11 PM

Sparky's is great, I love that place. They have the best chai I've ever had, plus it's right down the street from HR-57, a cool jazz club with no highbrow pretensions.

Posted by: Matt F | Feb 13, 2005 3:49:46 PM

The Saint-Ex ketchup is bad, pretentious, and bad. Give us some Heinz. Please.

Do they let you bring your own?

Either in a "wine bottle/corking fee" situation or perhaps run up to the McD's on 14th and U and fill up a couple of those plastic containers with some of the good stuff before heading over.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Feb 13, 2005 3:57:30 PM

Let's not put ketchup before Social Security. Here's what I think is the proper sequencing: Social Security / Tort Reform / Ketchup / Extermination of Liberalism / ... / health insurance / Medicare .... and so on.

Posted by: poputonian | Feb 13, 2005 3:59:08 PM

No offense to Mrs. Kerry, but Heinz is crap. Who the heck wants to eat corn syrup in catsup?

Muir Glenn makes some decent stuff. There are other options too, none of which has to be homemade. But stay away from the corn syrup.

Posted by: phil | Feb 13, 2005 4:09:12 PM

while the rest of you discuss ketchup, I'm still reeling at the thought of there being a cafe around 14th and U. Decades ago I used to wait at a bus-stop there to transfer down to Anacostia (Goodhope Road, anyone?). 14th and U was a wasteland--still smoking from the riots, not a legitimate business within ten blocks. Even waiting for a bus there was a terrifying experience. Ah, the disrick....But sounds like it has cleaned up a lot since my day, even-gasp-gentrified. No nostalgia here for the old 14th and U.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | Feb 13, 2005 4:24:44 PM

I had to admit that conservatism had reached a state of terminal decay when the "W" brand ketchup came along. No sane person would consume an inferior ketchup for the sake of politics. Yes, I grew up a Pittsburgher, but my preference for Heinz is not ketchup homerism - if I drank beer, it sure as hell wouldn't be Iron City.

That said, a REAL burger - good meat, medium rare, preferably char-grilled, needs a bun only for garnishment. (If you want lettuce and tomato with it, eat a fvcking salad.) Ketchup is for: inferior burgers (any fast food joint), french fries and hot dogs.

Posted by: Jim Henley | Feb 13, 2005 4:30:26 PM

There's a nice Japanese dish alled Omu-rice. it's rice mixed with ketchup and chopped vegetables and meat served wrapped in a thin omelete.

I used to work at a restaurant that "made their own ketchup" or at least that's what the manager told me. Then one day they said they were "making the ketchup" and I rushed back excitely to see how it was done and all they were doing was mixing some worchester sauce into heinz. it was big let down.

Posted by: Phil (different one) | Feb 13, 2005 4:36:14 PM

I shall never give up the quest for a more perfect ketchup.

Posted by: yesh | Feb 13, 2005 4:44:45 PM

I believe everyone in Seattle who has visted the Cafe Septieme can share a similar story. Shitty homemade ketchup is in danger of giving pretentious elitism a bad name.

One thing to add to Jim Henley's list: breakfast sausages.

Posted by: Scott Lemieux | Feb 13, 2005 4:55:09 PM

Y'know, I imagine that there is somebody in Pittsburgh that uses the not-Heinz, but I think there are small alarms in the Iggles to tell the police if somebody ever pulls a Hunt's bottle off the shelf. Most of them seem to have dust. Not that it matters, Heinz is the perfect ketchup.

They've actually converted a bunch of the old Heinz buildings into lofts now for those who might be interested. Personally, I can't imagine anyone wanting to live on North Shore. Especially not near an active Heinz plant.

Posted by: Mike Collins | Feb 13, 2005 5:19:15 PM

An' American baseball park hotdog mustard is the best mustard in the world. So there, Grey Poopon and frenz.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones | Feb 13, 2005 5:20:47 PM

Why has there been no mention of Arthur Miller?

Ketchup on Arthur Miller tastes terrible.

Posted by: imag | Feb 13, 2005 5:32:58 PM

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