Not only do we eat ketchup on just about everything...we eat it in mass quantities! So much so, that many hamburger places in the U.S. provide ketchup out of huge containers with a pump so we can pump as much ketchup on our food as our hearts desire. Of course, there are the traditional ketchup packets which work great when using the drive-thru; however these small packets don’t quite fulfill our need for ketchup, so we tend to get large handfuls of them as we race through the drive-thru.
So now, this ketchup-loving American finds herself in Australia, where, first of all, they call it "sauce." Hmph! This isn't just some generic “sauce” Aussies...it's KETCHUP…yummy…wonderful…ketchup!
Well, after 5-6 weeks here in Australia, I started missing home and the things that are familiar to me, so I decided to go to McDonald’s. First of all, when you are far away from home, there is something so wonderful about stepping into a McDonald’s. I must admit, I was never a huge McDonald’s fan back home, but now that I’m here, I visit one as though I’m a Muslim returning to Mecca! As soon as I step through the doors with those familiar arches I am awestruck. I feel like I should be whispering in such a “holy” place! Ah…home of the Big Mac, large fry and the $1 hot fudge Sunday…what else could be sweeter? I step up to place my order and… “Ahhhh!” the fright of my life…sticker shock! The menu here is pretty much the same as at home…but the prices are enough to send this American to the bank needing a loan to pay for her Hamburger Value Meal!
After placing my order, I wait about a minute for it to be ready…about the same as America…so far…so good! Then I look down at my meal. The first obvious problem is the size of the large pop (or “soft drink” for you Aussie’s!) It is so obviously…...small! The large drink here is the size of our medium drink in the States. Back home, when we order a large pop, we expect a LARGE…32 ounces (that’s twice the size of a large in Oz) of glorious, ice-cold fizzy stuff; and I can get it for $1 back home! And don’t even get me started on the Super-Size soft drink! But I digress. This story is about ketchup…or lack there of!
So what's up with Australian's and their “sauce?” Why do they use it so sparingly? Are they allergic to it? Is there a ketchup shortage that I don’t know about? Here in Australia, when you ask for ketchup with your meal, they include a couple of packets. I’m sorry, but that’s only enough ketchup for 5…maybe 6 french fries! I mean…what am I supposed to do with the rest of my fries? Here, they make you beg for your ketchup, like Oliver wanting more porridge..."Please sir, may have some more?" Then after all your humiliation they reach into their “vault,” out of reach from the customers and hand you not two...not three...but ONE more ketchup pack. Undaunted, I ask for more, explaining to them that I'm an American and we love our ketchup and that I really need more to go with my large order of fries; so they hand me only TWO more packets like they are doing me a favor! Not wanting to face any more humiliation, I sheepishly walk off trying to decide the best way to ration my ketchup supply throughout my meal. What can I say? They have left me with no other alternative than to drive around with a ketchup bottle in my car!
Yes, ketchup is like gold here, with McDonald’s being Fort Knox! (For my Aussie readers, this is where America’s gold is kept.) Makes me want to go to McDonald’s drive-thru and out of desperation threaten, "This is a stick up...give me all your ketchup!"