The Fourth of July might not be the same without hamburgers and hot dogs, but it would be nowhere without mustard, ketchup and mayo.
They’re the quintessential condiments — the dominant triumvirate of the refrigerator — not only for American’s favorite grilled foods, but for anything that requires a bun or dressing.
But these days, you won’t find them in just red, white and yellow. There’s an ever-expanding wardrobe of gourmet mayonnaises, mustards and ketchups in an array of colors and flavors, not only in tony restaurants, but on grocery store shelves as well. Michele Anna Jordan, author of "The Good Cook’s Book of Mustard," attributes the mushrooming condiment selection to Americans’ exposure to other countries and cultures.
"We have grown increasingly adventurous about food and accepting of bolder flavors," she says. "Restaurant chefs contribute to this, too as they continually seek ways to distinguish themselves from the crowd." As a result, there’s a market for better and fresher ingredients, bolder flavors, and traditional ethnic foods, including condiments.
"People know the difference between French’s mustard and a good Dijon, and no longer put ketchup on everything," she says. "All this is wonderful."
It’s easy for the home cook to gussy up those everyday condiments, especially mayonnaise, by using complementary combinations of herbs, spices and other ingredients. Here are some simple ways to add some sparkle to the condiments at your Fourth of July feast.