Words Worth Knowing: Ketchup

The Word Worth Knowing this week is Ketchup

Do you like ketchup on your hot dog? Or are you addicted to ketchup on your fries? Don’t be ashamed to want to ketchup everything, this sauce is much more exotic than you think. Although it has been in our gastronomic culture for centuries, Ketchup is not American, not even from our continent, and the crossing between its place of origin and our homeland changed it. For the better or for the worse? You will decide that yourself when you know the history. But first, check out some definitions.


Dictionary Definition

Ketchup: Noun. A seasoned pureed condiment usually made from tomatoes (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Ketchup: Noun. A thick, red sauce made from tomatoes that is eaten on other foods. (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)


It seems that ketchup lovers are fewer than we thought. According to the Collins English Dictionary, this Word is used just occasionally, it is among the 30,000 most commonly used words.

If you want to share some knowledge about the Ketchup, this is how:

“It would indeed be insulting to the culinary skills and the trained palates of our expert chefs should a guest request a bottle of ketchup at dinner. Adding ketchup would be tantamount to a slap in the chef’s face.”

From The Telegraph website Article: Etiquette-chup: can tomato sauce ever be part of a posh dining experience? 2019

You can find tomato ketchup without sugar and also no-added sugar mayonnaise and salad dressings. Or make your own. ”

From The Sun website Article: WEIGHT NO LONGER Lose weight fast WITHOUT dieting in 5 steps. 2019

Europe and North America are the main consumption regions of Ketchup in the world in the past few years.”

From Micro Finance Journalism website Article: Global Ketchup Market 2019-2024. 2019


Travels and Transformation


It’s well known how much Asians love sauces and sea food, so if I tell you that the first Ketchup was made specifically with fish, you won’t be surprised that its true origin is the Asian continent. It was born in China, specifically in southeast Fujian; it was destined to be a sauce to season different traditional dishes, its composition was mostly brine of pickled fish, and some condiments and plants like: walnut, mushroom, oyster, cockle and mussel, tomato, anchovies and cucumber. That’s why the name given to this sauce in Malay was kôe-chiap or kê-chiap, which comes from kôe, kê “salted or pickled fish or shellfish” + chiap “juice, sap”.

This mixture was so special that it enchanted not only the Asians, but also the English Colonists who visited Malaysia during the early 18th century. These men asked for “extra ketchup” and took it with them to Europe and America with the intention of replicating it.

As by then very few products carried a label with the ingredients, several American companies manufacturing tomato products tried to replicate the sauce, and achieved similar but never as satisfactory results. Finally, the Heinz Company made its own recipe, removing the pickled fish and replacing it with vinegar, and adding salt and sugar to the recipe as preservatives for the tomato. As a marketing strategy the company Heinz designed a special glass container for the sale of this sauce, with its corresponding label to give credit to the original name (or as close as they could translate it): Tomato Ketchup.

The product was a success, and in a few months the Ketchup was on the table of most Americans, although unfortunately without the eccentric Asian flavor!

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