Saturday, 8 August 2015


What's up? Catsup!

Trust your Saturday blogger to take a theme [Cats] by the tail and tweak it some, (though not seriously enough to cause it injury)...

I've been doing this blogging for a year now, so you should know to expect the unexpected from me. Yes, this is a first anniversary post and it's going out before breakfast, no less. Why the early blog? It's the Glorious Eighth - dawn of a new football season. I'm off to Colchester shortly to see what my beloved Seasiders (Blackpool FC) can serve up on the field of play: new manager, new players, new strip - in my case, the 'ethical boycott alternative shirt): Blackpool's alternative shirt 
My turn to expect the unexpected; and I probably won't be back this side of midnight.

Cats like fish, agreed? even if they are allergic to it. (My schooldays friend James had a big white cat that loved sardines, but its fur would fall out in handfuls every time it ate one.) Therefore cats ought to have lapped up Catsup in its original form. I've been doing some research. It was devised [as koe-sap] in China in the 16th century, a sauce made of pickled fish and spices; by the 17th century it was a popular fish-based table sauce in Malaya [key-chap], where it was discovered by English explorers. The English championed the sauce and it was English settlers who in turn took it to America in the 18th century. Over time, firstly mushrooms and then tomatoes were added to the mix and the fish quotient diminished and disappeared, an evolution which can be charted through the early tomato-based recipes of the 19th century which still featured anchovies among the ingredients. Nowadays, catsup (as it's known in much of the USA), or ketchup as we call it, is mostly a tomato-based sauce with honey, vinegar and spices added.

Camden's Original Recipe Blue Label Catsup caught my eye. Manufactured to the highest quality in Portland, Oregon, using only organic ingredients, Camden's Catsup claims to be "Pure happiness in a bottle", an attractive phrase that got me thinking, ultimately inspiring my latest (slightly weird) poem - a paean to pureed tomatoes - below. I don't have any Blue Label Catsup to hand, but if I did I'd be squirting it right now over my Full English Breakfast! There you go...

Happiness In A Bottle
Shake before use, you said,
to ensure a good mix
of this elixir;
best before date
stated on base.
I read "tomorrow"
stamped in plastic.
Curious indeed.

Squeeze me, you teased,
unguent and shapely.
Bottle to plate,
your essence flowed
like sticky sweet blood
and I, your latest paraclete,
did sup.
Curiouser still
you tasted good,
a tonic euphoric,
sauce for the synapse.

All hail, then, the pickle-maker,
Pauline preserver of souls!
It's hardly transubstantiation,
this conflation of pureed tomatoes
with vinegar and spice,
but most curious of all,
its aromatic pleasure
proves for a fleeting measure
that happiness
can be a catsup state of mind.

Thanks for reading. Have a tasty week, S ;-)


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