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How we got ketchup

Tomatoes entered the picture late

Dear Matthew: Here's a question that started when I worked in restaurants ten years ago and still comes up once in a while, but I have yet to get an answer to. So I turn to you. Other than spelling, is there a difference between ketchep and catsup? — Ward, Clairemont

“Ketchep” is a new one on me. But tomato ketchup, the Qadaffi/Kadaffi/Khadafi of condiments, may as well be spelled that way to add to “catsup" and “catchup," which are the generally accepted alternatives. The word entered the English language in spoken form first, leaving us to thrash around for an acceptable approximation to the Malay sound.

“Hi, sailor, new in town? How about a little kechap?" We can let our minds wander back to the 16th Century and imagine maidens enticing British mariners with such invitations. They were offering a sort of pickled fish sauce popular in Southeast Asia. (The name was borrowed from the Amoy Chinese name for the pungent stuff, koet-tsiap.) Back in England, the borrowed word “ketchup” (the original and most common spelling) was applied to a pickled sauce made from a base of fermented mushrooms or walnuts. Tomatoes didn’t enter the picture for quite a while, since people were generally afraid of them until the mid-1800s. We decided they were poisonous, like their cousins in the nightshade family of plants. And we chose to ignore the fact that the Aztecs, from whom we got the vegetable, had built an exceptional civilization on a diet loaded with tomatl( the Aztec Nahuatl name from which we formed “tomato” — or, presumably, “tomatoe” if you’re Dan Quayle).

Undoubtedly more than you ever cared to know about ketchup/catsup/catchup. No matter how you spell it, it’s the same oozy red stuff.

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Dear Matthew: Here's a question that started when I worked in restaurants ten years ago and still comes up once in a while, but I have yet to get an answer to. So I turn to you. Other than spelling, is there a difference between ketchep and catsup? — Ward, Clairemont

“Ketchep” is a new one on me. But tomato ketchup, the Qadaffi/Kadaffi/Khadafi of condiments, may as well be spelled that way to add to “catsup" and “catchup," which are the generally accepted alternatives. The word entered the English language in spoken form first, leaving us to thrash around for an acceptable approximation to the Malay sound.

“Hi, sailor, new in town? How about a little kechap?" We can let our minds wander back to the 16th Century and imagine maidens enticing British mariners with such invitations. They were offering a sort of pickled fish sauce popular in Southeast Asia. (The name was borrowed from the Amoy Chinese name for the pungent stuff, koet-tsiap.) Back in England, the borrowed word “ketchup” (the original and most common spelling) was applied to a pickled sauce made from a base of fermented mushrooms or walnuts. Tomatoes didn’t enter the picture for quite a while, since people were generally afraid of them until the mid-1800s. We decided they were poisonous, like their cousins in the nightshade family of plants. And we chose to ignore the fact that the Aztecs, from whom we got the vegetable, had built an exceptional civilization on a diet loaded with tomatl( the Aztec Nahuatl name from which we formed “tomato” — or, presumably, “tomatoe” if you’re Dan Quayle).

Undoubtedly more than you ever cared to know about ketchup/catsup/catchup. No matter how you spell it, it’s the same oozy red stuff.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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