Having lived abroad for so many years, I have many foreign friends; some of them also live in the US and read my blog and give me suggestions for topics to cover (like double dipping, which a Ukrainian friend told me is an American concept that doesn’t exist in Ukraine).
Another of friend of mine, a Brit, commented on condiments. Specifically, how condiments suck in the US. I had never thought about it before he pointed it out, but I realized it’s true, at least compared to the UK.
Take, for example, mustard. In the UK, English mustard – such as the standard brand Colman’s of Norwich – is a brown, wholegrain, thick, fiery affair, a good deal spicier and stronger than the bright yellow, vinegary-y American-style mustard which appears in an equally school bus yellow plastic squeeze bottle (and is confusingly referred to by its brand name, “French’s Mustard,” even though it is nothing like actual French mustard, such as Dijon mustard). It is also referred to (more appropriately) as simply “yellow mustard.”
But the British love for condiments goes far beyond mustard. I remember when I used to go for a pub lunch, the pubs would always have a carrier basket full of condiments which they would bring to your table for each meal. Aside from the obvious ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, it would usually also contain malt vinegar, HP sauce (a brown sauce), Branston pickle (and other jarred pickled chutneys), salad cream (an inexplicable mayonnaise-like substance), marmite, picalilli (an Indian-style relish of pickled vegetables and spices), and Worcestershire sauce, just to name a few.
The fact that Wikipedia has a category entitled “British Condiments” which comprises 31 pages shows that the Brits aren’t messing about (the Wikipedia page “American Condiments,” on the other hand, doesn’t exist). Sure, Americans love their ketchup, salsa, and certainly barbecue sauce, but they don’t seem to relish condiments in the same way the British do (yes, pun intended).