As a kid, ketchup was quite possibly my favorite food. I could put it on pretty much anything. Spaghetti included. But any ketchup other than Heinz always tasted off. Heinz, to me then, up until now, was ketchup, plain and simple. As I grew up, and became interested in other foods and more subtle flavors, ketchup wasn't necessary anymore for eating steak or baked potatoes.
That said, I still love a great burger. And if there's ketchup on the burger, it's usually going to be Heinz. There's plenty of mustards out there, plenty of sodas, plenty of everything, but there's really only one Ketchup, Heinz. Or so goes my thinking most of the time.
But today, I found another ketchup, and it works on its own terms. I'm 31 years old, home sick with the flu. And sick of soup, I felt like a reuben and some iced tea. Too lazy to drive downtown to Langer's for the #19, I drove to the Oinkster in Eagle Rock. They have a homemade ketchup there, which I tried with my fries. Wowzers. There's vinegar in their ketchup, and the tartness complicates the flavor, adding a punch of sour to the traditional sweet&salty alchemy of regular ketchup. Most homemade ketchup stinks. You know it. It doesn't taste right, like the target's been missed. But here, it's far enough away from your expectations of what ketchup is supposed to be, that the Oinkster's ketchup stands on its own.
Anyway, go have a chicken salad sandwich or burger there and an order of fries. Don't miss the ketchup.
P.S. I'd recommend their Reuben if it were consistent but it can be a hit-or-miss in my experience, all dependent on whether the Rye bread ends up crisp or soggy when it's served to you. If the bread's soggy, it's a greasy mess (still tasty, but a fork&knife affair). If the bread's crisp, it's superb. Oinkster's pastrami is Langer's influenced, but strikes me as overly peppery in their regular sandwich. But in a reuben, coupled with other ingredients, the pastrami sings.
2005 Colorado Blvd
Eagle Rock, CA 90041