The Austin Chronicle

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The Wacky Web We Weave

Multimedia Mayonnaise and Other Condiments on the Net

January 12, 1996, Screens

by R.U. Steinberg

Condiments and the Internet. My, how they go so well together. Of course, I don't mean smearing ketchup all over your FTP server or anything like that, it's more in a poetic sense; the Internet as a condiment for life on your computer. Just the right amount adds the necessary spice you're after. Too much, and you might drown out the original flavor. A scene from Monty Python's Meaning of Life comes to mind -- poor Mr. Creosote just didn't know quite when to stop ingesting and finally exploded. Overindulgence, however, isn't limited to the tangible.

Actually, condiments can be found all over the Internet and should be used in moderation, though the alt.ketchup Usenet group is not a place to look for temperence. (Those "alt" groups are such a free-for-all.) And don't stop there for dialogue concerning the sticky foodstuff best known as escort to the well-dressed french fry. At http://www.w3.org/wit/hypertext/www/Topic1034/Proposal1002 you'll find a lively discussion among blokes upset by the fact that McDonalds and Burger Kings in England charge 15p for ketchup to go.

Ever wonder why some people spell it "ketchup" while others prefer "catsup?" Thanks to the Evan Morris' column Word, Wit, and Wisdom at http://www.users.interport.net/~words1/ the question can finally be answered. The solution to the age-old-spelling debate, which is a column unto itself, is under the June 23, 1995 entry at http://www.users.interport.net/~words1/back-d.html.

By the way, Heinz spells it "ketchup." I checked a bottle myself, but if you'd like to see for yourself, Glen Smith at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, has scanned in pictures of Heinz' famous label and includes them on his Heinz Rules Home Page at http://ethereal.extern.ucsd.edu/ketchup.html. He also includes a recipe for homemade ketchup.

I was sorry to see the recent removal of the Condiments Home Page and Gallery at http://www.gwhs.denver.k12.co.us/Condiment/ because it addressed the subject with almost religious fervor. Knowing full well the loss of their picture gallery of condiments at Safeway, Burger King, and Taco Bell had most likely gone unnoticed to an uncaring world, I filed a protest with the site's Webmaster myself. Turns out the site's authors, a couple of students at Denver's George Washington High School, are going to try to repost this important repository at another address.

Fortunately, others are still carrying the condiments torch, including someone right here in Austin. Kel Byers (kel@io.com) has fabricated a quite lovely House of Mayonnaise Home Page at http://www.io.com/~kel/mayo/ "This page is dedicated to presenting mayonnaise, along with all of its magical properties, to the masses."

A zealot on the opposite side of the fence is Charles Memminger at the Honolulu Star Bulletin. His anti-mayonnaise sentiments, as well as those of the "I Hate Mayonnaise Club" are included at http://www.hisurf.com/nomayo/ Now I can see his point, especially if one were to consider the Cinco de Mayo Spicy Salsa Mayonnaise for sale at http://www.pacificablue.wis.net/ranch/toppins.html But one cannot dismiss mayonnaise's potential benefits, as well as its curious chemical nature. Dr. Jitesh Gajjar at the University of Manchester offers an applied mathematics course in which mayonnaise is covered under non-Newtonian fluid mechanics. Sound like something you'd like to enroll in? Find the course description at http://www.ma.man.ac.uk/PGBooklet/Html/PhdApplied.html.

As children, many of us marveled at the space program and the curious foodstuffs the astronauts took along on their journeys. Yet, few of us realized the inclusion of condiments in their diets. "Food for Space Flight" at http://shuttle.nasa.gov/sts-69/factshts/food.html offers proof that gravity and gastronomy aren't in direct proportion to each other.

Other scientists, such as those at Iowa State University, know of condiments' importance in the preparation of tasty insect recipes. Heck, Rootworm Beetle Dip wouldn't have quite the zing without the 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in the list of ingredients. More complete recipes can be found at: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~entomology/InsectsAsFood.html.

It seems Mayonnaise is appreciated the world over, even in Eastern Europe. If you ever find yourself in Slovenia be sure to ask for francoska solata (cubed potatoes and vegetables with mayonnaise). The less adventurous can visit http://www.ijs.si/lit/slovene.html, but they'll have to use their imaginations.

Of all the condiments, mustard seems to get the widest variety of coverage -- you'd think the superhighway was paved yellow with the stuff. Did you know it made the Kansas City Chiefs daily condiment list? Read it for yourself at http://www.uwrf.edu/chiefs/table.html.

Would-be farmers of flavor can frequent sites such as Species Varieties for Condiment Mustard at gopher://sulaco.oes.orst.edu:70/00/ext/vegetables/mustard.asc, and Black, White, and Yellow Mustard as a Vegetable and Condiment/Spice at http://newcrop.hort.purdue.edu/hort/newcrops/Crops/MustardBlack, while the spiritually minded will marvel at mustard's impact on the world's religions in No Mustard Seeds for Buddha at http://www.kei.com/homepages/surya/ttale32.html and at http://www.realtime.net/~vandruff/demons_xtra.html, which imparts wisdom of biblical proportion in quoting Mark 4:30-33 , "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed..." Condiments are next to godliness?

If the above-mentioned Web sites have induced mustard rapture, you might want to make vacation plans around the 1996 Third Annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival described at http://www.winezone.com/MustFest.html But if you're starting to believe this rather loose association of condiments, poetry, and the Internet doesn't cut it, there's always the Burzhy Home Page at http://www.public.iastate.edu/~vitaly/homepage.html, where you can read the following: "A computer without COBOL and Fortran [outmoded computer languages] is like a piece of chocolate cake without ketchup and mustard."

R.U. Steinberg began his career on the WWW by establishing the Mr. Smarty Pants Knows site at The Austin Chronicle (/mrpants) He is now the coordinator for Internet and online support at Origin Systems, Inc.

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