Americans have a bizarre obsession with ketchup. We slather it over anything and everything. In the US, French fries and eggs are the most common foods that get soaked in ketchup. But some people take it way further. White rice? Broccoli? Even cottage cheese, like that weirdo Richard Nixon? Sure. That’s just the beginning. And while most people think ketchup is an American condiment because we basically pump it into our veins every day, that just isn't true. Ketchup has roots as a fermented fish sauce in China. The word itself is derived from the Hokkien Chinese words ke-tchup, kôechiap, or kê-tsiap.
Even stranger to some Americans is the fact that ketchup isn’t always about tomatoes and vinegar. In fact, if you look at ketchups from around the world, some kinds don’t even have tomatoes. Basically, everything you know is a lie.
Here are five ketchups from around the world that will blow your mind—or at least make your fries a little more interesting.
Germany: Curry Ketchup
This zesty condiment is basically plain ketchup plus curry powder, an ingredient that makes most people think of Indian food. It’s also the star of currywurst, a popular German fast food dish made of sausage, fries, and curry ketchup. Still skeptical? Add a dash of curry powder to your ketchup and you'll see the light.
Jamaica: Jerk Ketchup
Jerk seasoning plays a huge part in Caribbean cuisine. And thanks to ingredients like cinnamon, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers, it’s a party for your taste buds. Like curry ketchup, this fiery sauce can be made by mixing jerk seasoning and ketchup. But if you want to crank up those island vibes, add crushed pineapple.
Japan: Tonkatsu Sauce
While tonkatsu sauce isn’t just ketchup-plus-something-else, the major ingredient is ketchup. Essentially, it’s a BBQ-ketchup hybrid complete with soy sauce and mirin, a Japanese sweet rice wine. Tonkatsu is eaten with deep-fried breaded pork or chicken called katsu.
Philippines: Banana Ketchup
If you never thought bananas could be sweet and savory, think again. Filipino ketchup is made with bananas, spices, and more bananas—seriously. It’s got a little tomato paste, but the banana’s sweetness steals the show. Banana ketchup was invented during World War II, when the Philippines had a shortage of tomatoes. And while it pairs well with burgers and eggs, it's used to make Filipino sweet spaghetti.
Great Britain: Mushroom Ketchup
Back in the 1700s, Brits used mushrooms to make ketchup. It called for soaking mushrooms in salt before cooking. The outcome? A salty and tangy batch of goodness. These days, the tomato version has taken over, but you can still find mushroom ketchup by the British brand Geo Watkins.