Barbecues and Ketchup

(This blog post replaces an earlier one, which didn’t open up correctly on all devices.)

The summer season is almost over, at least if the weather is anything to go by, but there may still be time for a few more barbecues before the autumn leaves start falling. If you are someone who enjoys food grilled outside, you may be interested to know that the word ‘barbecue’ came into English from the Caribbean, via Spanish. The Haitian word meant ‘framework of sticks’ and indigenous Haitians used the framework to cook meat. This became assimilated into the Spanish word ‘barbacoa’ after the Spanish colonization of the Americas, although it was first used in English (in the late 17th century) to mean a place for sleep. 

Ketchup, often eaten with barbecued meat, is one of the few words in English thought to come from Chinese, possibly via Malay. It originally referred to different sauces made from a range of ingredients including mushrooms, oysters, mussels or walnuts, but the tomato-based one is now the most common ketchup variety world-wide, giving the modern day condiment its recognizable colour. Ketchup is also known as catsup or ketsup in the US.

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