KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just so you know, I don’t have a dog in this fight.
I hate ketchup — like, don’t eat it. At all. Ever.
I used to eat it with French fries along with some foods I didn’t like as sort of a ketchup-coating to make it go down easier, but somewhere along the line I lost my love for ketchup — probably once I learned tomatoes were involved.
I’m a mustard man* now.
* I once participated in the condiment race at Kauffman Stadium as "ketchup." I won, of course, but I didn’t like it one bit for what that meant for mustard’s yearly total.
More controversially, I also don’t like steak. You heard me. I don’t like steak.
This is a bigger admission than Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes this week spilling to an ESPN writer that he loves ketchup and even eats it on steak.
I would submit that far more people douse a slab of meat with what’s thought of as a hot dog topping than there are people who genuinely don’t like steak in the first place.
Then again, nobody cares about my taste buds, except for my in-laws, who can never seem to remember that I don’t like steak even after 18 years of marriage. They’re surprised every time.
“You don’t like steak?! Since when!?”
“Since last Christmas, Rita, when you were also shocked. And the holiday before that and the holiday before that."
I wish I liked steak. It looks good. And I hate having to explain it to people.
I love chicken fried steak. Does that count?
Anyway, know that I’m not pro-ketchup nor pro-steak in the great "ketchup-on-steak" debate raging this week in Kansas City, so let’s examine.
"Maxim" magazine did an important piece of journalism back in 2012 with an article called “100 Foods to Eat with Ketchup." Let's recap:
There are "The Usual Suspects" — French fries, burgers, onion rings, tater tots, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and meatloaf.
There also "The Allowables" — eggs, shrimp, chicken fried steak, mozzarella sticks, hash browns, and pork chops
Also listed are "The No-No-Nos" — potato chips, pancakes, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, cornbread, and Cheetos.
"The Absurds" — with mustard, with mayo, in hot water to make soup, and egg salads.
"The Things I’ve Heard of But Don’t Know What They Ares" — kale chips, calamari, fried pierogies, croquettes, falafel, and pad Thai.
"The Things I’ve Never Heard Ofs" — scallion pancakes, scrapple, polenta, and latkes
The list includes 100 total food items — enough to include fried chicken with ketchup (ew), a grilled cheese sandwich with ketchup (nope), and cottage cheese with ketchup (make it stop).
Not included anyplace on the list ... steak.
So, "Maxim" — not exactly a bastion of decency — won’t even allow ketchup on a steak, though apparently it’s fine on Slim Jims and Reuben’s and pizza rolls.
What’s the deal? Well, it might be the perceived gap in nourishment quality between ketchup and steak.
Ketchup is given away in packets. If you don’t have enough, they’ll give away more.
Steak can cost $100.
“Why on earth would someone choose to cover up such a carefully crafted blend of prime beef with such a sweet, overpowering condiment?” “The Meat Show” host and beef expert Nick Solares said when a similar controversy erupted involving President Trump.
It’s a good question, but there are plenty of plain steaks out there. There’s a difference between a steak from Stock Hill and a steak from Outback.
Ketchup can make the steak from the buffet at Golden Corral quite a bit better I would assume.
If you think we’re making a big deal out of Mahomes’ cut-of-beef preference, well, you’re right. But he isn’t the first public figure to be embroiled in this debut.
President Trump eats his fine steaks well-done and with ketchup (and you know he isn’t dining at Applebee’s). There has been an article or two written about that.
There also have been about 6,000 Reddit threads devoted to ketchup on steak.
The website The Daily Meal lists 30 Food Sins and coming in No. 5 — right between "Using Bottled Lemon & Lime Juice" (more of a Food Misdemeanor than sin if you ask me) and "Putting Mayo on Corned Beef or Pastrami" (guilty) — is "Putting Ketchup on Steak, Eggs, or Hot Dogs."
That's ri--- ... Wait, hot dogs? Hot dogs are too good for ketchup now? I don’t think so.
And that’s where the problem exists.
If a rule against ketchup on steak is going to lead to a mayo ban on sandwiches or no ice in wine or no cheese on fish, it’s best to have no rules.
It’s like roughing the passer in football.
Listen, don’t kill the quarterback, but if that leads to punishment for falling on the quarterback or grazing the quarterback’s helmet with your knuckles, maybe it’s best to not have any rules on killing the quarterback.
It’s necessary to push back here.
You may not prefer ketchup on your steak, but Mahomes isn’t shoving it your mouth.
It goes back to what I always tell my in-laws at a steakhouse: “Is chicken on the menu? If so, then they shouldn’t scoff at me for ordering it.”
Is steak on the menu? Is ketchup available? Yes and yes.
Then bathe your meat in ketchup, Patrick!
Don’t hide it anymore, a premise admittedly destroyed by sharing it with an ESPN writer.
But more importantly, don’t be ashamed of it.
In fact, if anyone can be a trendsetter in the ketchup-on-steak department, it’s Mahomes. Trump’s approval rating is only 40 percent. Mahomes is nearing triple digits, at least in Kansas City.
Maybe after a Super Bowl and winter full of ketchup-on-steak pictures from KC restaurants, dousing your porterhouse in Heinz will become the next big thing.
I mean, I doubt iced tea mixed with lemonade was popular before Arnold Palmer professed a love for it.
I can hear thousands of Chiefs fans saying to servers across the city, “Gimme the Mahomes."
Out comes the house’s very best T-bone and very best Hunt’s ... or Heinz, who tweeted at Mahomes that they would give him ketchup for life if he got 57 touchdowns.
Coincidentally, that number matches their Heinz 57 brand and would be a new NFL record.
— Heinz Ketchup (@HeinzKetchup_US) November 15, 2018
Look at Pat — overcoming his fears, admitting a faux pas, and now potentially benefitting from it.
Maybe odd food-eating habits aren’t that odd after all. There could be an entire marginalized community of ketchup-on-steak eaters out there who now have a voice.
Ketchup on steak is fine.
So is ketchup on macaroni and cheese, which Mahomes admitted being a fan of this week under questioning from local media.
Ketchup on spaghetti is fine too — my dad has never eaten spaghetti without it
Heck, let's just agree that ketchup on bacon is fine ...
Or perhaps we should not push it.