She Invented A Condiment Called Banana Ketchup, And She Also Was A War Hero Who Taught Her Country To Be Less Reliant On Imported Foods

volff - - illustrative purposes only

Have you ever had the condiment banana ketchup?

Yes, it sounds a bit strange, but it’s a popular Philippine condiment invented by food scientist María Orosa, who not only created a legendary condiment but was also a war hero and taught the Philippines how to become less reliant on imported foods.

María was born in the Philippines in 1893. She came from a family that was very passionate about helping their community, and her siblings took on many political and administrative roles as they got older. María moved to the United States when she was 23 and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and a degree in food chemistry from the University of Washington.

She studied in the labs at the university’s pharmacy school, experimenting and testing food products to ensure they met the government’s standards. She also went to Alaska during her summers and would work at fish canneries.

After finishing school, she was offered a job as an assistant chemist but decided to go back home to the Philippines in the early 1920s.

Once arriving home, María set out on a mission to make the Philippines more self-sufficient when it came to food production so the country could rely less on foreign imports. She joined their Bureau of Science and became the head of their economics and food preservation divisions.

During her time with the Bureau of Science, María did a lot of work with her country’s native foods and produce, educating people on how to preserve them properly. She also taught families living in more rural areas how to sustain themselves with helpful information like how to raise chickens and how to make easy dishes with accessible, local food.

María invented a special clay pot called a Palayok, allowing families without access to electricity or ovens to bake.

Although ketchup was already a popular condiment at this time, the climate in the Philippines was not suitable for growing tomatoes. So, to reduce the reliance on imported tomatoes, she mixed bananas, vinegar, sugar, spices, and a bit of red coloring to make banana ketchup, which is still used and loved in many Filipino households today.

volff – – illustrative purposes only

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

1 of 2