[Sca-cooks] Period?, was Tomatoes

ranvaig@columbus.rr.com ranvaig at columbus.rr.com
Fri Oct 6 13:06:00 PDT 2006

>Someone mentioned a book about the history of ketchup.  I am  unfamiliar with
>the book, but if the author states that ketchup has a history  linked to our
>(SCA) time period, does he give his sources?  Are they period  sources, or
>just someone else's opinion on the matter?  I'm curious.

Ketchup was not originally made with tomatoes, 
but seems to only be period in Asia.  Tomato 
ketchup dates from around 1800.

In the 1600s Dutch and British seamen brought 
back a salty pickled fish sauce called 'ketsiap' 
from China. In this version, it was more related 
to soy or oyster sauce than the sweet, vinegary 
substance we call ketchup today. Variations in 
both the name and the ingredients quickly 
developed. British alternatives included 
mushrooms (the favorite), anchovies, oysters, and 
walnuts. In 1690 the word 'catchup' appeared in 
print in reference to this sauce, and in 1711 

The first ketchup recipe was printed in 1727 in 
Elizabeth Smith's The Compleat Housewife, and 
called for anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white 
wine, sweet spices (cloves, ginger, mace, 
nutmeg), pepper, and lemon peel. Eighty-five 
years later the first tomato ketchup recipe was 
published in Nova Scotia...

Indonesian and Asian culture invented what we 
know today as ketchup. The spicy, pickled fish 
sauce made of anchovies, walnuts, mushrooms and 
kidney beans, dating back thousands of years was 
called ke-tsiap or kecap and was popular in 
17th-century China. British seamen brought 
ke-tsiap home with them where the name was 
changed to catchup and then finally ketchup. It 
wasn't until the late 1700s though that canny New 
Englanders added tomatoes to the blend.

Ketchup existed before anyone outside the 
Americas had ever seen a tomato. Originally this 
sauce was made out of pickled fish. It originated 
in Eastern Asia; the word ketchup is used in 
Chinese, Malay and Indonesian (e.g., kecap 
manis). English and Dutch sailors brought the 
Asian ketchup to Europe, where many flavourings, 
such as mushrooms, anchovies and nuts, were added 
to the basic fish sauce. Whether the tomato was 
also added to ketchup in England is not certain, 
and it's likely that this important event first 
happened in the USA. By 1801 a recipe for tomato 
ketchup was printed in an American cook book, the 
"Sugar House Book".

The word ketchup comes from the Chinese word 
"kôe-chiap" or "ke-tsiap," meaning "brine of 
pickled fish or shellfish." The original Chinese 
type of ketchup tasted more like soy or 
Worcestershire sauce, and did, of course, contain 
fish brine, plus herbs and spices. There were no 
tomatoes involved. The early recipe "traveled," 
as good recipes do, to Malaysia and Indonesia. 
17th century English sailors encountered the 
sauce in their journeys, and took the sauce and 
recipe concept home to England. (Another theory 
states that British explorers first discovered 
the condiment in Southeast Asia.) At any rate, 
instructions for making ketchups then spread to 
other parts of the Western world. The sauce was 
first mentioned in print in the English language 
in 1690.

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