Ketchup is, obviously, the great American condiment. Jeffrey Steingarten, in fact, wrote an excellent article about it, which can be found in his book The Man Who Ate Everything. But while we here in the states have tomato ketchup, in the Philippines, banana ketchup (also called banana sauce) is the preferred national choice. Not surprisingly, it is essentially a ketchup made from bananas rather than tomatoes, then dyed red so as not to look incredibly unappetizing.

Banana sauce is sweeter than ketchup, packing a fruity flavor that is balanced out with the acidity of some vinegar. In the Philippines, it is used often as a condiment for fried foods, but can also, as Abby at Pleasure Palate once told us, be used in a variety of other ways. If you're interested in sweet Italian fusion, mix it with your spaghetti sauce and fold in some sliced hot dogs. She also told us that frying eggs and bacon, then breaking the yolk and mixing it with steamed rice and banana sauce makes for a new twist on breakfast.

It is also, like tomato ketchup, incredibly inexpensive. Most Filipino markets, like Bahay Natin in Culver City, will carry bottles of it for under $2. If you're up for a little more adventure, you can also pick up a bottle of spicy banana sauce for a little extra kick.

Bahay Natin Food Mart: 9903 Venice Boulevard, L.A., (310) 841-6773‎.

LA Weekly