Bananas Ketchup?!

Looking for my race recap from San Diego? You’ll have to wait until my next post. I’m working on it! In the meantime…

I was recently digging through a cupboard when I came across something way in the back that I had completely forgotten about. Bananas Ketchup!

kalina-bananas-ketchup-bottle

Wait… what? Ketchup made from bananas? Yup, folks, it’s real. And it’s delicious!

I picked up this bottle when I was in St. Martin, an island in the Caribbean. I found it in a little market near where the cruise ships dock, and I knew I had to try it. It’s been over two years since I went on that cruise with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and just seeing the bottle is bringing back lots of memories.

RELATED CONTENT: Planning a cruise? It’s very possible to eat well and keep active on a cruise ship. Check out how I ate on my cruise, how I exercised, other things that kept me active, and some of the sights.

Because I bought this in the Caribbean, I naturally assumed it was a food native to that region, but that’s actually false. Bananas Ketchup was created in the Philippines, and dates back to World War II, when there was a big nationwide ketchup shortage. A lack of local tomatoes made making ketchup impossible, but a crafty food technologist named Maria Orosa developed a ketchup recipe using bananas, a plentiful crop. A lot of bananas ketchup is dyed red, but mine was left banana-colored. (That’s yellow, for anyone that failed kindergarten.)

SIDEBAR: Maria Orosa is considered a war hero in the Philippines. She’s been commemorated on a stamp, and there’s a street and federal building in Manila that have been named for her. Bananas ketchup wasn’t her only invention – among her other creations was a soybean-based powder that’s credited with saving the lives of thousands of prisoners in Japanese concentration camps.

SIDEBAR TO THE SIDEBAR: One stretch of Maria Orosa Street in the Philippines has become “the busy epicenter of GLBT life in Metro-Manila,” according to Wikipedia, so that’s pretty sweet.

But how does it taste? It tastes good! It’s definitely a bit strange, as it tastes both like bananas and ketchup. The sweet part of the ketchup has a banana-ish quality, but the savory part (vinegar, onion, salt) is distinctly ketchup-like. Because bananas are sweeter than tomatoes, bananas ketchup (at least the Kalina brand I bought) doesn’t have any added sugar. Most regular ketchups on store shelves have a big dose of high-fructose corn syrup (it’s often the second ingredient on the list, after tomato paste).

I tried bananas ketchup on a Gardenburger, and after a couple bites, I nearly forgot it wasn’t regular ketchup. The texture and mouth-feel are almost identical, and when you can’t see the product (because it’s between a patty and a bun), it’s really hard to tell the difference!

gardenburger-bananas-ketchup

That’s frozen veggies in the back, steamed in the microwave.

I also tried bananas ketchup with a veggie “chicken” tender (the meat-free frozen stuff was on sale!):

gardein-chicken-tender-bananas-ketchup

Yup, I like it. I totally approve. I have no idea how readily available bananas ketchup will be in your neck of the woods. There’s a sizable Filipino population in Los Angeles – there’s even a historic Filipinotown, although I’ve never hung out there – so I have a hunch I could find it in some specialty stores if I looked. I’m working my way through this bottle – but I kinda wanna get another bottle, so I can experiment with grilling and marinades!

Another healthy condiment to add to the arsenal? I’m all for it!

Keep it up, David!

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5 Responses to Bananas Ketchup?!

  1. Very interesting! I might experiment with making my own.

  2. I love reading your blog! I hate cooking and somehow you make even cooking interesting!

  3. Sarah Van Houten says:

    looks amazing!!!

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