Do you have a condiment?

Some people don’t like them, but I won’t eat dinner without ‘em. It’s not just about whining-prevention- they enhance the experience.

The picture below is the line-up from the other night. These jars and bottles are patiently waiting to be transferred to the dining room by wobbly little, table-setting gnomes.

I'm not sure it matters but I'll tell you anyway. We were having salmon, potatoes, peas, salad, and watermelon... and each of these condiments was ESSENTIAL! Here's the issue. I’ve gone way back to basics recently with cooking so I don't have to consult a recipe amidst the chaos that's common in my kitchen. This basics-only approach frees up the time and mental energy I need to repeatedly yell, "BACK up, that’s hot!” 

So, our dinners are super simple: a protein, veggie or starch for the kids, salad, and fruit. It’s like eating an outfit from the Gap. Because the menu is so dull on it's own, accessories become pretty important. That's why at Chez Camarote, we have a "thing" for condiments.

Allow me to make some introductions.

I’ll start with the reining king and queen: ketchup and honey mustard. Purchased separately, these two are always combined on the plate to make “hetchup.” Hetchup goes great with everything. From fish sticks to apple slices, my kids don’t eat without it. These two darlings are so essential to dinner that we keep backups in the pantry. Running out of one would mean one of parents would be running out to the store for more. If you look closely in the picture above, you can see the ketchup top is broken. That was my fault. Those bottles get slippery after being handled by thirty small, slimy fingers. I was trying to put it away the other night when it hit the kitchen floor head first. Now Linc reminds everyone, every single dinner that “Mommy broke the ketchup. It was an accident. No problem.” Aw, thanks bud. It's like he's heard those words himself 1,000 times before.

Butter. While a condiment in most people’s book, butter is considered a side in our house. The dish goes to the table last. Forget knives and matches; my kids require constant supervision around butter. Without one of us hovering, they’d eat an entire stick with their bare hands. We're so proud.

The olives, sundried tomatoes, and feta in the back were for me. I love Greek salad more than I should admit. I have fantasies of someday laying on the beach in Mykonos on a bed of spring mix with a bottle of SPF15 vinaigrette. I'm alone.

Remoulade. I have a problem. I love having stuff and hate clutter at the same time. I’m in a constant cycle of buying and then immediately trying to get rid of whatever I just purchased. I got this remoulade for crab cakes a month ago. It was pretty good, but we’re not getting through it fast enough. In fact, there has been no progress in weeks. I keep just putting it on the table hoping someone (the kids, maybe) will be confused, think it’s hetchup, and eat some. No such luck.

Panera salad dressing. This cutie is just one of five siblings that live in our fridge. One more trip to Target and I'll have the complete set. I love Panera. I love their salads. And, I love that I can now buy their dressings at the store. Store-bought dressings are such a gamble. With these, I already know how they taste. Delicious. 

One of my “go to” homemade dressings, a jar of pesto, and a ramekin of dijonnaise complete the picture.

  • The dressing in this recipe is super simple: lemon, garlic, onion, Dijon, and olive oil. It’s like my hetchup. It truly can go on anything.
  • I’ve talked before about my love of pesto and Ina Garten. I typically use this on eggs, but it can parachute in to save any other boring protein on a moment’s notice. It’s another one that’s always in the fridge.
  • Lastly, I throw together the yummy mayo/Dijon combo just for salmon. If you like patronizing recipes, here’s “expert advice” how to assemble these 2-ingredients from Epicurious. Thanks, assholes.

Salt might be the spice of life, but there are an army of condiments in the running for second place. I don’t know how we’d get through our meals without them.

What about you? What are some of your must-haves for dinner?