A curious debate published by Refinery29 about the difference between a sauce, a dip, and a condiment has sparked a discussion about the very same subject at Jezebel— a symptom of the content economy’s need to feed at every moment, I’m sure, but one that we are all susceptible to. Regardless of why the question was asked in the first place, the fact remains that it was, prompting a brief but spirited discussion at my place of employment.
“Perhaps you wouldn’t expect a topic as innocuous as this to spark passion or controversy, but this conversation turned into quite a heated debate,” Refinery29 says, which is true. And the work that they did on this topic requires praise, for it is comprehensive and wide-ranging. I appreciate their journey, but at the end of the article, I was unable to find any of the closure I craved. For the women at Refinery29, the difference between a dip, a sauce, and a condiment is necessarily fluid and also, personal. What is a dip to one is a sauce to another; one woman’s condiment is another woman’s dip, but someone else can use it as a sauce, if they want. Confusion reigns. I am but one woman, incapable of clearing up this confusion for myself, or for anyone else. However, one thing is crystal clear: no matter if it’s a dip, a sauce, or a condiment, you should really, really eat it for dinner.
At this juncture in our collective suffering, making dinner is boring and the effort required to do so, non-existent. This isn’t “languishing,” because I firmly believe there are no more new feelings to be discovered, but it’s something like ennui. All the foods that I’ve made over the course of the year are now foods that I eat all the time because they are easy to make and I don’t have to think about it, but eating the same sort of flavors over and over again will eventually drive me to Soylent. What will never fail me, though, is the Dip Dinner—a phrase I just made up that describes my favorite kind of dinner. It’s not particularly “new” or “revolutionary,” but it is at the minimum, different, and so I urge you to consider it for your evening repast.
Dip Dinner is really just a dinner styled sort of like a well-constructed plate at a cocktail party: a blob of Green Goddess, some celery sticks, four to five Saltines, some sliced sharp cheddar, a pile of salami, a puddle of ranch dressing next to a few broccoli crowns and a mess of bell peppers cut into little sticks. If a gherkin or three lurks in the back of the refrigerator, why not. It’s a picnic dinner, when the picnic is just you, sitting in your house, on the couch, watching your little stories.
For Dip Dinner to actually be filling and also to feel like an occasion, the dip in question should be assertive, bold, and hearty. A buffalo chicken dip fits the bill, but so does the aforementioned Green Goddess, or even a particularly robust spinach-artichoke dip. Queso is perfect for Dip Dinner. Guacamole works in a pinch. Really, any dip that you love and cherish that can be dressed up with the dregs of your snack cabinet and/or crudité drawer is a perfect candidate for this meal, which feels low-effort and tastes like socializing with strangers you don’t really like—wonderful practice for your cousin Amanda’s wedding in late 2021 or the baby shower you wish to not go to but know that you must. Look at Dip Dinner not as a meal of desperation, but rather as a way of getting back in the swing of things. Summer is coming, the outside is open, and soon, barbecues and social gatherings will fill your little calendar. Dip Dinner will not be as enjoyable then, so if you can, enjoy it now.