The senses of smell and taste can lead to powerful reminders of the past, taking us down memory lane, making us think of things we haven’t thought of in years and bringing us right back to a precise moment in time.
Given the title of this blog post, how on earth could “dip” do such a thing? When I say dip, I don’t mean a dip in the pool, although I did do that today, and it was quite refreshing and pool “dips” do sometimes remind me of the many, many summer days I spent swimming growing up in Devils Lake, North Dakota.
No in this case I mean dip as in something you eat. One Google post describes dip as a “thick sauce in which pieces of food are dunked before eating.” Hmmm. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, and I don’t think of dip as a thick sauce. I am talking about dip as in chips and creamy, flavorful dips, combined together are one of my food weaknesses. I mean who doesn’t like chips. In most grocery stores there is an entire aisle devoted to a gazillion types of chips (which thank goodness the supply of did not seem affected by the pandemic.) On the other hand, a wide variety of good quality dips are much harder to find, so I am always on the lookout.
One of my favorite dips was one made by Cass Clay, a North Dakota-based company that sells dairy products. It used to have a dip my family loved. I don’t remember the name of it, but it had an orangish tinge to it. Some years back I found a recipe for a similar dip in one of my North Dakota church cookbooks. The ingredients include cream cheese, mayo, Western or Catalina dressing, finely chopped onions and garlic powder. I still make it occasionally, usually around some sort of holiday. (FYI – I checked out Cass Clay’s website and the only dip listed was French Onion – boring!!!)
So where am I going with this? Today I needed to go to the Safeway grocery store to use the DMV kiosk to get my new registration and plate tags. I was mad at myself for procrastinating and having to pay a late fee. And also not happy about having to do a Smog check, which I think is ridiculous for newer vehicles and just some scam for somebody to make money.
Anyway, Safeway isn’t my go-to grocery store as it is further away, however while I was there I decided to pick up a few things. And since I had not been there in some time, I decided to peruse the dip selections. Note I say selections, as there is certainly not an aisle dedicated to dips as there is for chips. To my great dip-loving excitement there on the dip shelf was a Safeway brand of Caramelized Onion dip, which I hadn’t not seen on the shelf in at least five years, which is the amount of time I have been living here in Sac CA. High excitement for this dip loving girl! I was thrilled! It totally made my day. Cartwheels!!
I headed home (BTW I just now realized that I forgot to put the new tag on my license plate – obviously because I was so giddy about the dip) eager to try out the dip. Once home, I settled into my comfy chair and cracked open a bag of (low fat of course) chips and dipped into the oniony dip, hardly able to contain myself.
Once that dip hit my taste buds, I was immediately transformed back to the last time I had this dip, which was five plus years ago when I was driving from Denver, Colorado, to Sacramento, California, I had stopped for the night in a small, dusty town in Nevada (I think). The town was surrounded by dry, tan, scrubby bluffs and had few trees, making the blue sky look so expansive. I checked into a bare bones motel and snuck my traveling companion and pal Kit Kat Jenni into my room, so I wouldn’t have to pay the pet fee. I left her there briefly (not feeling totally comfortable leaving her there alone) to walk over to a nearby Albertson’s grocery store. It was in strip mall type of location with restaurants, a bowling alley and the usually assortment of strip mall type of establishments. I bought, among other things, Caramelized Onion dip and chips – comfort food for this big GIANT life changing, and slightly scary, move I was making.
I hurried back to the hotel and found that Jenni was safe and exploring the room, and was happy to see her drink some water I had laid out for her. I sat at the small motel room table, enjoying my chips and dip and watching Jenni sniff pretty much everything, scoping the place out. She finally jumped up on the bed and made herself comfortable, and gave me a solid slow stare, as if to say, “yeah this is a big change, but you can do it.”
Time travel from that vivid memory back to today in my comfy chair in Sac CA, I looked over at the patio, where my cat Chloe was sitting, and for a brief moment I was surprised it wasn’t Jenni sitting there.
Taste, and dips, powerful time travel stuff.