We all love French fries with ketchup, but French fries with malt vinegar are infinitely better -- and how about French fries with aioli? The world of condiments reaches far beyond ketchup, and even much further than your mustards and relishes. It's a vast and varied terrain of flavor-boosters, from fiery hot sauce to cooling tahini.
What defines a condiment is simply that it imparts flavor onto another food -- it could be a dip, sauce or in some cases even a spread. It's all kind of subjective, however. We count jam, but we do not count peanut butter, which is definitely more of a spread. We count salsa, but we don't count guacamole, which we think of more as a stand-alone dish. There's a fine and elusive line -- so subjective that even the dictionary won't commit to calling a condiment anything more than just "something that is added to food to give it more flavor." (Emphasis our own.)
Whatever it is, a condiment isn't eaten by itself, which makes it hard to compare as a stand-alone food. Vinegar on French fries might be better than jam on French fries, but vinegar on toast? We'll take the jam. With no universal food to fit all condiments, we're left to rank condiments on a purely un-scientific scale, based on our guts. The best we can do is consider respective condiments when they truly shine -- hot sauce on a taco, dijon mustard on a sandwich -- and compare how well they do their job. Some, we believe, do a lot better job than others.
Here are 25 of the world's favorite condiments, in order from worst to best: