K = Ketchup, A to Z Blog Challenge

I know what you may be thinking. “Ketchup? Seriously? This bastard has run out of ideas.” But I am in my head far too often, and I think about stuff in the strangest ways possible, and in a way, ketchup is a symbol of change, horror, and accomplishment for me. Plus, I wanted to take it easy tonight. Let me to ‘splain you. *giggle*

When I was a kid, I was one of those annoying brats who like NOTHING on his anything. McDonald’s cheeseburger? If there was so much as a speck of ketchup on that bun, I would pick it apart like a vicious, disgusted crow. Mustard was the devil. I could handle a tiny bit of ketchup if forced, but mustard would ruin any food it came into contact with. Onions could fuck right off.

This went for anything. My maternal grandmother was horrified. “You’re going to eat that sandwich DRY?!” Seriously, you would think I had agreed to swallow live eels stuffed with razorblades. I think part of it is that my mother was a terrible cook, and she learned everything she knew from her mother. My maternal grandmother’s goulash could be used as a nuclear deterrent. Sauces were dangerous in that family. My mother’s meatloaf had gray bits of mush that might have started life as oats, but ended life as gastrointestinal distress.

My sister loved ketchup and absolutely smothered the soggy meat-mass our mother erroneously claimed was meatloaf in it. Ketchup was her way of choking down my mother’s barely edible meals, allowing the horrors from the kitchen to slither down her throat in a river of processed tomato. I wanted nothing obscured. The unknown was more frightening than biting into something possibly undiscovered by man. Bless that woman, she tried, she really did. But she stood no chance.

To give you an indication of where things went wrong, I must say that my grandmother preferred powdered milk. Yes, you read that right. She preferred it. Anyone who has had powdered milk knows the struggle and the pain. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that her goulash was a potent weapon against her grandchildren. She couldn’t taste anything wrong with it. My sister suffered as the rest of the grandchildren did. Ketchup did nothing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the broth was MADE from water and ketchup. OLD ketchup. With rocks in it. And shards of glass.

Thankfully, I learned nothing from my mother’s side of the family. My great grandmother on my dad’s side was one of the most amazing cooks whose food I have ever had the privilege of tasting. My paternal grandmother inherited that skill, but was lamentably lazy. My father’s first attempt at ever making an entire turkey or ham came out amazing (though the talent seemed to have skipped his sister entirely). I learned to cook shamefully late in life, and I’m actually pretty good. I have a tendency to over season things, afraid that I have the curse of my mother. When I pull it back and go for moderation, I’m actually pretty proud of myself. I think I have escaped the horror.

I love ketchup now. Mustard, too. Onions are amazing…grilled, stir fried, on a taco, in spaghetti, whatever. I can’t get enough. I don’t have to be afraid anymore. I don’t have to be brave to use these things. So, in its odd, ephemeral, “no, you’re seriously too into your own pretentious head” sort of way, ketchup is a symbol of change to me. Unless it’s on McDonald’s fries. Then it’s just a travesty.

Alternate letter considerations: Knights, Kaiju, ka, kick box, koi

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 13, 2015.

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