Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Obama Understands Freedom of Condiment Choice Cuts the Mustard with Americans

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Originally published on on Mon, 05/11/2009 – 10:38am

The right-wing talking heads has strenuously worked hard to attack President Barack Obama. But last week’s focus couldn’t cut the mustard, and they need to ketchup to their usual standards.

The latest chagrin: Obama, in a photo-op at an Arlington, Va. snack shop, ordered a medium-well cheeseburger with spicy, or if they had it, Dijon mustard.

The right-wing response was mocking Obama for wanting mustard or spicy mustard or Dijon mustard on his burger. Laura Ingraham asked: “What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?” Sean Hannity noted that “I hope you enjoyed that fancy burger, Mr. President.” This is where we have come with the right-wing points.

But mustard is an essential ingredient on the fast food hamburger in this country. The standard McDonald’s and Burger King hamburgers both contain mustard. Lots of Americans eat those hamburgers. Most restaurants offer ketchup and mustard bottles for whatever reason they are needed.

The right-wing talks about freedom — we need the freedom to do what we want as Americans. So exhibiting that freedom to get what you want on your burger is… not… American? After all, Burger King taught us to “Have It Your Way.” Because of that freedom, you can order extra of a condiment or refuse to have one placed on your burger.

The condiment Luddites are scrambling in desperation to hang on to whatever sense they have on the world around them. And they have thrown their salvation around ketchup.

Well, in Chicago, in the heart of America, you would be ridiculed for putting ketchup on a hot dog, and rightly so. In the Windy City, we put ridiculous things on our hot dogs — mustard, onion, an obscenely neon, unnaturally colored, dark green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt — but ketchup isn’t one of them.

In parts of the Western United States, they have a “fry sauce,” basically one part ketchup and two parts mayonnaise. Is a French fry condiment with mayonnaise considered “American”?

In a country where salsa has either surpassed ketchup or it’s neck and neck, we use a variety of condiments for our food to make it “American,” and that includes foods with a foreign history.

The hamburger and hot dog were “born” in this country, yet both have German roots. Hamburger (Hamburg) and Frankfurter (Frankfort) would be the obvious clues. And Dijon mustard, with French origins, is only one of many spicy mustards found in the U.S. Horseradish mustard would be one such example.

To be fair, ketchup is truly American, and we had exported our version of ketchup to restaurants around the world. After all, few condiments have a lot of sugar and salt, and if nothing else, America stands for extra sugar and salt in our diet.

The U.S. version has high-fructose corn syrup, and nothing says America like high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar.

What about mustard? Well, mustard in regular amounts doesn’t have calories, fat, or carbohydrates — and certainly no high-fructose corn syrup.

If we are supposed to eat better, and certainly the Obamas have suggested on multiple occasions that this might be a good idea, then maybe we could eat more mustard and less ketchup. And there is plenty of mustard made right here in the good ol’ USA, including from America’s leading ketchup maker, Heinz.

When I was recently in Paris, they offered mustard at the table for pomme frites — or as Sean Hannity would say it, French fries. I did ask for ketchup, clearly showing well beyond my accent, that I was from the United States.

But maybe, through Obama’s leadership, we could have a change of heart. Maybe we need more mustard in our lives and less ketchup. Maybe we should expand our thought process to consider unlimited possibilities in this world. Well, except for ketchup on a hot dog, that’s just plain wrong.


Written by democracysoup

May 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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