Recently a co-worker and I had a conversation over watermelon salsa about what constitutes a condiment versus a dip. Both require something else to assist consumption. Yet, we give them different food values. I wonder why? Who determined that ketchup would be tasty spread on a hot dog, but cocktail (primary ingredient is ketchup) sauce is for dipping shrimp? Salsa is for dipping, but mayonnaise is for spreading. Who makes these decisions? What if everyone decided to dip chips in spicy mustard, would that change it’s aisle at the grocery?
If we downshift here to look up the definition of condiment, it’s “something used to enhance the flavor of food.” So what does dip do? According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, there are five definitions of the word, none of which have to do with food-to immerse; thrust; lower in and out- and a few definitions around chewing tobacco. YUCK. All the definitions have to do with actions.
According to the Foodimentary blog, dips didn’t show up on the entertainment scene until the 1950’s. However, there is evidence that President Wilson’s wife made dip for him. It was one of his favorites. And according to the Food Timeline History notes site, it was James Beard. In his very first cookbook (Hors d’Oeuvre and Canapes, 1940), Beard wrote: I think it delightful to have large bowls of cheese mixtures which are of a consistency that permits “dunking.” There are also tales of dip being served during the depression years when entertaining changed dramatically.
According to a Huffington post, the history of condiments is considered unique and perhaps bizarre. Because I mentioned ketchup above, it’s history is reported as being traced to a seventeenth-century Chinese sauce made of pickled fish and spices called kê-chiap. It was discovered by English explorers, who brought it back to England, where they made it less fishy and added more mushrooms and shallots. Tomatoes didn’t make their first appearance in ketchup until the early 1800’s.
Not sure we’ve completely answered the question other than the two yummy treats took parallel journeys to our grocery shelves and party tables. Imagine Superbowl Sunday, or a Summer cookout without either one. It’s not an appetizing thought. So go ahead and scoop, dip and squeeze your way to food happiness. Oh, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for March 23rd- National Chip and Dip Day!
Click-it to tweet-it: Recently a co-worker and I had a conversation over watermelon salsa about what constitutes a condiment versus a dip. Both require something else to assist consumption. Yet, we give them different food values. I wonder why?