Condiments as a food group

When my son was around three years old and my daughter was around one, I went to my brother's house to visit and have lunch. Knowing my brother, I made sure that I brought food for the children because as a bachelor, his fridge rarely had toddler-friendly food options. As a parent, you try to make sure that you are feeding your children healthy food choices however, sometimes, you just need something quick that they will eat without complaining. I brought a box of Kraft Dinner and cooked it for the kids only to realize that I forgot something.

"Do you have ketchup?" I ask my brother, hopefully.

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"No," he replied.

The resulting commotion of a three-year-old having a tantrum about not having ketchup for his "ronis" was memorable enough that my brother now ensures that he always has ketchup, just-in-case. My son is still suspicious and a little disappointed every time we go to my brother's house because my son does not understand how you can live with only a jar of sauerkraut and some carrots in your fridge. The resulting ketchup trauma is renewed every time he asks his uncle for a snack.

There are three condiments that are always in fresh supply at our house: ketchup, plum sauce and sour cream.

It drives my husband bananas.

He insists that the food tastes the same whether or not you have the sauce to accompany it but I disagree. Some foods legitimately taste like garbage without the right sauce. Kraft Dinner needs ketchup, chicken nuggets need sweet and sour sauce and perogies (and cabbage rolls) need sour cream. There are replacement condiments that will do in a pinch but the meal is far less satisfying. Ranch dressing can substitute for sour cream but I will be grumpy while eating. Plum sauce can stand in for sweet and sour sauce but there is no true substitute for ketchup.

This strange condiment conversation came up again because I came home from work this week to proudly let my husband know that my co-workers had lunch envy over my delicious cabbage roll lunch. I then told my husband that I even ate my cabbage rolls without sour cream. It was a remarkably similar conversation that we would have with our kids when they announce that they finished their whole lunch and ask if they could please have a treat. Sometimes, the weird food issues that you develop as a child can follow you right up until you are a thirtysomething adult woman. Yes I would like some perogies but only if there is sour cream otherwise I'm not hungry. Some foods are just a vehicle for sauce and I am okay with that.

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