As everyone who lacks proper present-buying imagination knows, cooking is the ultimate romantic get-out-of-jail-free card. You can traipse round every jewellery store on Oxford Street, but there’s nothing that says “I love you” quite like a bloody fillet steak. This is doubly true at the front end of February. As Valentine’s Day bares down upon us, the pressure is on to come up with something fancy to impress your other half. The stakes on the steaks couldn’t be higher.
However, unless you’ve been practising your smears or pre-aerating your foams, coming up with something that’s equal parts delicious and impressive can be tricky. No one wants their grand gesture to look like a cat threw up into a bowl. Therefore, anything that can add a certain layer of sophistication to February 14th should be taken very seriously.
It is our collective desperation to bring a level of panache to otherwise terrible cooking that has compelled sauce magnates Heinz to elbow in on the romantic action. This Valentine’s Day, for the first time ever, a select group of lucky customers will be able to get their hands on the world’s classiest ever condiment. Behold - ketchup caviar is here to save the day.
According to official press releases, this “limited edition delicacy” promises to turn “America’s favourite ketchup” into “America’s favourite caviar”. Though there’s not much competition in the latter category, it still sounds like an impressive achievement. Designed for “true ketchup lovers,” according to a promotional video, each jar will come packed with “little pearls of ketchup for an exquisite Valentine’s Day experience”.
The promotional event, dubbed “ValenHeinz Day” by the puntastic advertising execs at Heinz HQ, promises to randomly send out a selection of the limited edition jars to 150 random ketchup fans on January 29th - giving you plenty of time to come up with something creative on February 14th. Anyone eager to get their hands on the special tomato globules will have to sign up to the event on Twitter and pray that they are lucky enough to get chosen.
This isn’t the first time that chefs have come up with a cunning way to turn liquid into “caviar”. In the world of fine dining, several prominent cooks, including Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria and Wylie DuFresne, have built careers off the back of spherification - a technique by which a sauce is mixed with a seaweed extract and dropped into a bath of calcium chloride, producing tiny droplets of flavour. Heinz’s latest product, however, marks the first time that the technique has been used to enhance popular sauce brand.
28th January marks the final day for entrants into the prize draw, so anyone wishing to get their hands on a jar is going to have to act pretty quickly. Given the secrecy around the event and the limited availability of prizes, it looks like most of us will never get to discover whether the end result is actually any good. However, even though it might remain a mystery, there’s no doubt that this is a novel way to get lovers talking about Heinz again.