导读：番茄酱在大多数美国主厨的眼里，只不过是用来为儿童和汉堡店准备的。但José Andrés有着不同的想法，这位在西班牙出身，在华盛顿州生活工作了20年的大厨发现了番茄酱的奇妙之处。“不必感到羞愧，是时候为我们的番茄酱吆喝庆祝了！”于是，José 的America Eats Tavern开张了，里面有各式各样的地方番茄酱，搭配着从炸鸡到牛排到热狗的不同主食。同时，José与伙伴们也在不断更新研制新品种的番茄酱，比如牡蛎番茄酱或是越橘番茄酱。番茄酱不仅仅是一种调味料，1981年美国农业部的提案中重新把番茄酱列为蔬菜，可见对于美国人的饮食作出了极大的贡献。不仅如此，番茄酱也为家庭带来了别样的乐趣，Cesar Ramirez就做了这样的尝试，把番茄酱放在甜番茄炸薯条或是各种蔬菜上，孩子们就会把蔬菜吃下去，甚至能安慰到生气的妻子。着实在是太妙了。
The chef José Andrés says that it’s time for America to face a hard truth, one that all of Alice Waters’s goat cheese salads and Thomas Keller’s fried chicken cannot change.
"Everyone else in the world still thinks of American food as ketchup,” said Mr. Andrés, who was born in Spain but has been living and cooking in Washington for 20 years.
He said that European colleagues still tease him about finding success here, among diners whose palates are corrupted by ketchup. The low prestige of ketchup hits Mr. Andrés hard.
Now he is on a quest for redemption. He (and a few other chefs and entrepreneurs) are challenging the hegemony of the red, corn-syrup-sweetened product. “It is time to embrace and celebrate ketchup, not be ashamed of it,” he said.
And so his new pop-up restaurant, America Eats Tavern, has a separate menu of traditional ketchups, made from local and foraged ingredients and served on everything from fried chicken to bison steak to hot dogs. (Some, it should be noted, consider ketchup on hot dogs an abomination.)
The restaurant opened in June in the space that formerly housed Café Atlántico, and grew from an exhibition at the nearby National Archives that runs through January. “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” illustrates the history of government influence on the American diet, from handwritten rations for Revolutionary War soldiers (one pound each of beef and bread per day) to the ill-starred 1981 proposal by the Department of Agriculture to reclassify ketchup as a vegetable in federal school-lunch programs.
Last week, America Eats Tavern had eight ketchups on the menu, and still more fermenting in the mind of Jorge Luis Hernández, who leads Mr. Andrés’s culinary research team. Mr. Hernández said that in searching the archives, the team found dozens of ketchup recipes in tomes like “Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book” (1846) and “The Virginia Housewife” (1824).
"Today we think of ketchup as just one thing: Heinz, or Hunt’s, for those of us who grew up in the South,” he said. But over the years the term has been used for a variety of strongly seasoned condiments.
"We started making whortleberry and barberry and oyster ketchup from the original recipes,” Mr. Hernández said, “and we were shocked by how diverse and modern the flavors were.” Indeed, the tart-sweet balance of the fruit ketchups, and the cold brininess of the oyster version (fresh oysters blended into a base of wine, butter, shallots and mace) could have come out of any of the professional kitchens where Mr. Andrés first trained as a chef.
Some of the ketchups were red (cherry and spiceberry), one was made from tomatoes (yellow, from the greenmarket outside the restaurant’s door) and two (oyster and anchovy) were brightly fishy. They tasted of spices and fruit, of peppercorns and vinegar, but not particularly like the syrupy tomato blast that has come to represent America’s primary contribution to world cuisine (whether Americans like it or not).
"Why, as a society, have we let this diversity go away?” Mr. Andrés lamented via cellphone from Spain — where, he said, it would be unthinkable to find just one version of a classic sauce like romesco. “Why would we go from a rainbow to black and white?”
American foodies and chefs generally dismiss ketchup, deeming it fit only for children and burgers.
The apotheosis of ketchup shame is the gastropub Father’s Office in Santa Monica, outside Los Angeles, a serious burger town where condiments, especially mayonnaise, are deeply loved. The chef Sang Yoon’s Office Burger, and its salty-sweet topping of bacon and caramelized onions, is the centerpiece of his menu. Yet since opening in 2000, he has refused to serve ketchup with it, or with anything else in the restaurant.
Many Angelenos remain irritated by what they see as the chef’s snobbery, and some have maintained a boycott. “My wife would not go until this year, when I begged her to go with me on Father’s Day,” said Cesar Ramirez, who lives in Hacienda Heights, Calif. To appease her, he smuggled in some packets of Heinz and put it on the sweet-potato fries, then posted pictures of the contraband plate online. “I respect the integrity of the chef,” he said. “But I also respect the power of ketchup because I can put it on anything, even vegetables, and my kids will eat it.”
Many chefs who take burgers seriously (now including Mr. Yoon, as he wrote in The Los Angeles Times last week) make their own ketchup, with “good” ingredients like fresh ginger, ripe figs and whole spices. But few have tried to make a Heinz-like product. (“It’s too dangerous to try to do that and not nail it,” Mr. Hernández said.)
That has recently changed. From an undisclosed location in Lancaster County, Pa., two serious young entrepreneurs are working to undermine what they call “one of the last monopolies” in American food. “Heinz is not just the market leader but the market definer,” said Mark Ramadan, who started Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup last year with Scott Norton. It is the first alternative ketchup to be aggressively marketed to restaurant chefs and upscale hotel chains, and via Twitter.