Albion Recorder & Morning Star News

Looking Out: It’s only sausage

“So, is it C-A-T-S-U-P or K-E-T-C-H-U-P?” says my old pal Tikins, sliding the red plastic bottle across the restaurant table.
“This one says it’s with a K,” I say.
“It tastes better if it is spelled C-A-T-S-U-P,” says Tikins.
“Baloney,” I say.
“Is that B-O-L-O-G-N-A or B-A-L-O-N-E-Y?” says Tikins.
“No matter which, it’s only sausage,” I say, intent on eating my lunch which does not include either ketchup or bologna.
“These distinctions are important,” says Tikins.
“Maybe to you,” I say. “But to the rest of western civilization, they are meaningless.”
“Baloney!” says Tikins.
“I’m almost done with my meal,” I say. “You’ve been yacking away. You need to catch up. —Get it? Catch up? Ketchup?”
“I just lost my appetite,” he says.
“Well,” I say, pulling out my phone, “while you eat, I’m going to look up the history of ketchup and see which spelling is the original.”
Three French fries later, I have the answer. An American named James Mease was a plant scientist who invented ketchup in 1812, but instead of vinegar it was made with brandy, which may account for its popularity at the outset.
The word “ketchup” and similar variants, all spelled with a “K”, had been around for centuries in the middle east and far east, describing various sauces. It was Mease, however, who was the first to use tomatoes.
“Here’s the thing, Tikins,” I say after telling him all that. “Ketchup with a K was around for a long time before the tomato-and-brandy thing in 1812, but it’s back to England for the spelling thing.”
“I’m no longer interested,” he says, munching on a bite of fish.
“Too bad. I’ve built up a good head of steam,” I say, looking at my phone again. “Way back in 1730, the English poet Jonathan Swift wrote a poem with the unlikely name A Pangyric of the Dean in the Person of a Lady in the North and in that long, long, poem, he used the spelling C-A-T-S-U-P. It caught on. Let me read you the poem. It’s only a few pages long.”
Tikins crams all the rest of his lunch into his mouth, stands up and runs out the door, screaming, and leaving me to pay the bill.
Since I have the car keys, I catch up with him in the parking lot.
“Rude!” I say. “You would have loved the poem, even though I don’t understand one word of it.”
“Baloney,” he says.
“While I was waiting for my change, I looked up the two spellings of that word too,” I say.
“Oh, my aching head!” he says.
“A sausage made in Bologna, Italy is where the name came from,” I say. “But that city is pronounced as bologn-ya. It says here on my phone that we Americans anglicized the pronunciation and spelling to baloney in the late 1800’s but some people stuck with the old way. Then, in the 1970’s an Oscar Meyer jingle changed the pronunciation to baloney for good.”
Tikins begins to run across the parking lot with his hands over his ears as I chase along behind him to fill him in on the ingredients and manufacturing methods used in making bologna and baloney.
He’s faster than I am, so I lose him and return to my car. I have no idea how he got home, or when. That’s why I decided to write it all down and send it to him.
What you just read is but an excerpt of my treatise. Let me know if you want the full thing.

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