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A Melting Pot of Condiments

This Independence Day, celebrate the great melting pot that is America by making your own hot-dog-enhancing condiments with a global twist!

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Oh how I love the 4th of July! There’s plenty of baseball and fireworks; it’s secular; and there’s no gift exchange. It’s perfect. It’s also a day off in which to engage in a very American pastime: outdoor gluttony. The food, my lord, the food! What is America if not its food? And yes, of course, you should celebrate with hamburgers and hot dogs because it says we must in the constitution, but this year I suggest you also embrace what makes America truly magnificent–other countries–by infusing your hot-dog-and-hamburger-guilding condiments with the flavors of foreign lands.

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1. Ketchup

English settlers brought ketchup with them to the colonies, so it’s possible that ketchup was the first American condiment, and though it’s only the third-best-selling condiment in the US,1 what it lacks in gross sales, it makes up for in covering the taste of gross foods.

If it weren’t for the British, we wouldn’t even have the Fourth of July. And what do the British love? Curry. I know, you, American that you are, object immediately: “Not in MY ketchup!” you shout from your desk, arousing suspicion from coworkers. “Curry in ketchup is ridiculous,” you whisper to no one.

But trust me. Embrace the curry. Let spices do their thing, and enjoy this curry ketchup with sweet potato freedom fries and endangered buffalo burgers like the forefathers would want you to.

2. Mustard

It was the beginning of 20th century in America. Radios and automobiles were new technologies people were just beginning to access and explore, and then along comes an innovation unlike any other: prepared mustard. George and Francis French pioneered the spreadable novelty, which they introduced on a major scale at the St. Louis World’s Fair, locking in the French family as the dominant player in the American mustard arena for the next hundred years.

But mustard is actually quite easy to prepare from scratch, and when you do so opportunities present themselves–like the opportunity to booze things up with the addition of your favorite German lager, for example. Jean Marie Kennedy knows all about mustard, having made and sold her own around Richmond for years as Simply Savory. Her recipe uses hometown favorite Legend Lager, so score one for Freedom.

Sweet Beer Mustard

Makes approximately 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 oz. Legend Lager
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. The liquid may completely absorb, and that’s OK. Add to the work bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and spreadable. There will still be some whole mustard seeds.

If it seems dry, add additional beer, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistancy is reached.Will keep, in an airtight container, indefinitely.

3. Remoulade

French in origin, Remoulade is very similar to its British ally tartar sauce, but the former is typically smoother and more complexly seasoned. Feel free to draw whatever conclusion you will on the parallels between a country’s condiments and its people. This particular remoulade, from Burger Bach owner Angela Whitley, is all USA thanks to a Walker-Texas-Ranger roundhouse kick to the tastebuds care of fresh jalapeño.

Substitute this remoulade for mayonnaise in your favorite mayonnaise-based potato salad recipe. HIYAAH!

Jalapenño Remoulade

  • 16 oz. mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large fresh jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Place ingredients in a blender, and blend about 2 minutes or until smooth.

4. Mayonnaise

In Japan, miso is everything, a traditional culinary staple with high nutritional value and cultural significance. Regional, even familial, varieties abound, making our barbecue sauce varieties seem limited by comparison. There really is no true American equivalent. But you know, I always say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join them into your mayonnaise recipe and then dip stuff in them!”

The resulting combination of fat and slightly floral funkiness is addictive in the extreme. This is a mayonnaise that makes up its own dipping excuses. Out of chips? Dip a cucumber in it! Just a spoon!? Oh go ahead, no one’s watching. Your bare hand? OK, whatever you’re getting weird again!

Photo by: Ashley Burton


  1. Behind mayonnaise and salsa. 

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