Sunday, August 1, 2010

An Irrational Fear of Condiments

There is very little room for condiments in my edible world. Up until my early twenties I ate most of my foods unadorned or with one non-offensive condiment. If I had the unfortunate luck to eat at a Subway, I would always get a sandwich with "a little bit of lettuce, salt and pepper" and nothing else. The vast array of room temperature condiments and add-ons were completely unappealing to my palate. Only a few years ago did I begin to eat hot dogs with a little bit of ketchup (keep your filthy relish away from me), and my ketchup usage is limited to french fries and occasionally on a hamburger. That red goop has no place on my breakfast table.

To this day I still find the liberal use of condiments grotesque. This is not to say that I dislike flavourful food - I love complex flavour combinations and textures, and the foods that I enjoy the most I would hardly consider plain or lacking in interest. This is a very specific aversion to mixing natural flavours with synthetic peculiarities. I am repulsed by the excess, the disgusting need to overpower a taste as opposed to complement it. I do not like it when condiments blend together and turn into a viscous discoloured substance that tastes like something and nothing all at once.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. I am not opposed to the use of condiments, as long as it is in moderation. Soy sauce, sriracha, and dijon mustard are all wonderful. Teriyaki is delicious, as are the classics, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. But bottled salad dressing, you better stay out of my face. That goes for you too, Paul.