Thursday, July 02, 2009

Why I love condiments

I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for condiments & I cant get enough of em. In fact I could almost say all foods are merely ‘condiment delivery devices’ to pinch a phrase from Dr Wigeland, former tobacco whistleblower.
I know that last statement is a big call but nothing gets my appetite stirred quite like the site of one of those condiment baskets on a Formica table in Victoria St Richmond where a role call of condiment greats stand tall: Hoi sin, chilli, soy, plum but to name a few.
Aah the wonder that is the Condiment Caddy, official name & receprical of the sauces that transport the most prosaic of menu items to the ambrosial, no matter the generic qualities of the sauces in question.
To me condiments are all about freedom. They are like a muscled Harley for the menu constrained, a shiny red sports car for the middle aged menu crisis or the buffed trophy himbo boyfriend for the taste-bud inhibited.
Not for me the dictates or constraints of the cook or the chef, let me freely embellish or adorn my plate with the free spirited zeal of a Daubist.
Before you start to picture me as someone who will just dump the chilli sauce or salt or mustard on anything before I taste, you are wrong. I always taste first. However if these little puppies are placed in the caddy before you what is the establishment saying? They are saying, ‘Knock your self out & start glugging those condiments’. Maybe a part of their appeal is that they appear to be an added bonus, a freebie of sorts? Perhaps they might appeal to our sense of table aesthetic? I mean who doesn’t love the Zen like Yin & Yang symmetry that the little red & green Tabasco sauce bottles exude? Even the humble Aussie table of old has been canonized in art & literature by a Cardinal of Tomato sauce, a Bishop of Lea & Perrins & a Pastor of malt vinegar, with their collective flock being represented by a stack of white bread & a slab of butter.
The notion of free condiments appeal to me not just cause I don’t have to pay, after all I’m sure canny operators build the cost into there offerings, but because they seem ‘thoughtful’ & even ‘considerate’.
Tartare sauce with fish & chips, obvious. Tom sauce with a pie. Hello? Soy with a Dimmy, come on!
Why then do some Jurassic places still cling to the archaic notion that a small sachet of condiment will a) coat the whole item of food adequately or b) that you as consumer will be happy buying 30 or so sachets just to lubricate said item?
I have taken an unprecedented step that causes much derision, bemusement & mild embarrassment from my family & friends. Because I am frequently disappointed by the condiments on offer at most bakeries & being partial to a pie or particularly a pastie, I have carried a bottle of tomato sauce in my Ute’s glove box for the past six years.
Is that obsessive behavior I hear you question, yes quite possibly? In fact I have been known to take my own home made Tartare sauce to the local chippie after one day cracking it as the condiments were over priced & to meager for the job. I have also left the eggs sizzling, the toast warming & the bacon in the pan & legged it down the road after discovering to my horror that we had run out of tomato sauce. I simply won’t eat my favourite meal if all the pieces are not in order, condiments being a cornerstone to my enjoyment. This influences me professionally of course& that’s why my sauce dishes are positively brimming with good cheer, at heart, a statement of understanding & I guess generosity.


claire said...

Ain't nowt wrong with condiments! :)

Ran said...

i love the sauce in the car! i had a cfouple of extra sachets in there for a while i must confess but not a bottle!!!

steve said...

Hi Claire-I'm lovin your USA installments BTW & I'm extremely envious of your wonderful trip, thanks for commenting! USA Number One for Condiments Ok GI?!

Hiya Ran-noice to hear from youse, glad you liked the post & believe me a cannister of sauce in the glove box would make a scout proud-be prepared!

Another Outspoken Female said...

Nice to find you again and thanks for the link :)

So do you have a favourite tobasco? I'm trying to pare back my condiments (have a very small kitchen) but not always successfully.

steve said...

G'day AOF- glad to be found again! I tend towrd the green one but love the original doused over penne w/ meatballs, or stirred into mayo or on some grilled chicken thighs w/ lemon & sea salt-getting heartburn thing about it already!