Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Being RIght Kicks Ass

Every day our receptionist sends out an email to everyone telling us who is out of the office, travelling, visiting, etc. Lately, she's been including a word of the day and useless trivia. Today, the trivia was about ketchup. It said, "The word ketchup is derived from the Chinese ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce."

I wondered aloud what had happened between now and then to turn some weird fish-based sauce into today's ketchup. It seems like going from fish to tomatoes is a pretty big leap. Then my coworkers started making fun of me and saying that iit wasn't a sauce MADE of pickled fish, it was a sauce FOR pickled fish. I would think that if it were a sauce for pickled fish, it would read, "a sauce for pickled fish." Duh. And why would a sauce's only purpose be to dip pickled fish in? If you can use the sauce for pickled fish, you could probably put it on pickled ham. Or beets. Or pickles.

A hot debate over semantics ensued. It was three of them versus one of me. Finally, I turned to the ultimate authority: a Google search. Sure enough, ke-tsiap was a sauce MADE from pickled fish. It took them a few websites to believe me, and they still found a few websites that had recipes for ke-tsiap that had clams or oysters, which weren't "fish." I knew they were grasping at straws, so I did a victorious Suck It Dance around our department.

Once the thrill of victory faded, the leap from freaky fish sauce to delicious ketchup started bothering me. How can something made of anchovies, mushrooms, walnuts, and kidney beans possibly be an ancestor of something made of tomatoes and vinegar? That's like saying today's Snickers bar is derived from beef jerky. You can do a whole six degrees of separation thing with just about any food. Stupid bullshit trivia.


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