It's a rat race even for plants: French hollyhocks trying to ketchup catch up to the vines above.

ketchup (keht-chuhp) noun, masculine
  1. ketchup (or catsup)

Sure, point it out. "But ketchup isn't a French word!" you argue. Yahhuh it is! (Well, more of a word than yah + uh-huh or "yahhuh" which, though fun to say, isn't a word in French OR English). If you cringed reading "yahhuh," then you can just imagine how those "keepers of the French language" over at L'Académie française must have reacted when the bloody term made it into some of the most hoity toity of French dictionaries. Mr. Ketchup, for here we have a masculine noun, is positively dapper listed there under the "style" section in some dictionaries. Here are just a few examples:

=> mettre du ketchup sur son hamburger = to put ketchup on your hamburger
=> ajouter du ketchup = to add ketchup
=> apporter du ketchup = to bring ketchup (some B.Y.O.B., others B.Y.O.K.)
=> accompagner un plat de (ou avec du) ketchup = to garnish a dish with ketchup

Update: Apparently the Académie is flexible....Here is their official definition of ketchup: Mot anglais, probablement issu du chinois. Condiment préparé à partir de tomate et d'épices, au goût légèrement sucré. ("An English word, probably from Chinese. A condiment made from tomato and spices, with a slightly sweet taste.")
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And here, in today's quote, a bit of ketchup philosophy:

La douceur du ketchup adoucit la force de la moutarde...Il faut de tout pour faire un monde. The sweetness of ketchup softens the force of mustard...It takes all kinds to make a world. --from Moutarde et ketchup by Pierre-Jean Verhoye

I watch, stunned, as Jean-Marc picks up a bottle of ketchup and squirts a small red pool next to his riz cantonais.* The only thing French about this is its singular quality, that is, each aliment is in its place (ketchup on one side, fried rice on the other). Next, I watch my husband haul the ketchupped rice into his mouth. Beurk!*

Squeezing ketchup over a meal in France seems sacrilegious. But then, this isn't French food. This is take-out, and the squirting of ketchup, well--just another take on take-out.

While I watch, wide-eyed, my kids don't bat a French eye. Instead, Max seconds the motion and Jackie says "passe moi le ketchup, s'il te plaît." As Max draws the bloody mark of Zorro over his own fried rice, he brags about his neighbor friend. "At Alex's house you can eat ketchup so hot your mouth will fall off! Oui, ça arrache la bouche!"

Meanwhile, I wonder if my own ears have been arrachées, or pulled off. Am I hearing right? Since when have the tables turned so that now the French are as fond of ketchup as Americans once were?

That Americans put ketchup on all of their food is legendary (if only to the French). Wrong, wrong, wrong. Just take a look at this French definition for ketchup: condiment à base de jus de tomate utilisé dans la cuisine anglaise. Well, there you go, the French cite the English as the official ketchup
gourmands. Maybe they pour it over those meat pies? Will have to ask my friend Michele....As for me, I enjoy ketchup with my scrambled eggs. Come to think of it, there are scrambled eggs in the fried rice that we are eating....

It turns out that Jean-Marc's fried rice/ketchup pairing is right on target and not because of the egg coincidence. According to Wikipedia, ketchup first appeared in Eastern Asia. And while one dictionary says ketchup is an English word derived from Hindi, another suggests it might be a Malayan word. Will
have to ask my friend Alicia....

When all is said and done, ketchup may have come from the Chinese in the first place--which would make the squirting of ketchup over take-out apropos, après tout.* And, given that the Malay word means "taste," that would make Jean-Marc's gesture far from tacky, but rather, in good taste.

References: le riz cantonais (ree-kan-toe-nay) (m) = Cantonese fried rice; beurk! = yuck!; après tout = after all

:: Audio File ::
Here my son, Max, recite today's quote: Download ketchup.wav
La douceur du ketchup adoucit la force de la moutarde...Il faut de tout pour faire un monde.

In Store for you: Frenchy must-haves:
Music: Benabar
Butterfly Film
French software
Vie En Rose Book

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