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Ketchup

If you don’t see a bottle of ketchup on your table at an American restaurant, odds are that all you have to do is ask.  Ketchup is the most commonly used condiment in the United States, and due in no small part to the prevalence of fast food to other countries, its popularity is growing worldwide.  So how did America come up with this popular culinary and cultural export?

They didn’t.  The origins of ketchup are actually Chinese.  Specifically the earliest ketchup started in Taiwan, in the 17th century.  In the Amoy dialect of Chinese, spoken in parts of Taiwan, the word was kê-chiap, and it described a sauce made from pickled fish and spices.  Over the next century, the sauce became popular all over the region, served as a popular condiment on tables as far away as Singapore and Indonesia.  In fact, it was in Indonesia where Europeans picked up the habit, as well as the word.  The English word ketchup (or catsup) comes directly from the Indonesian word kecap (pronounced |ˌke ʧɑp|, or …