Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Bibi Hutchings

The simplest summer veggie dips

In "Bibi's Gulf Coast Kitchen," columnist Bibi Hutchings takes you on a culinary journey across the coastal south. Come for the great food writing, stay for the delicious recipes.

As much as my body craves salad and cold, easy food in the summer, I inevitably go through a spell where what I make at home just doesn't satisfy. Is is food fatigue? Am I too hot to care?

Thankfully, I have capital-S Science to help me understand what might be behind my dissatisfaction. 

Have you ever wondered why it is that a sandwich tastes so much better when someone else makes it for you? And the same goes for that perfectly cold, crisp salad. The one from your favorite lunch spot with the sunflower seeds sprinkled over those three perfect slices of pickled beets placed so beautifully on top. The one you have once or twice a week and absolutely love and have gone to ridiculous lengths to replicate e x a c t l y, but somehow when you make it at home, it pales in comparison. How can that be when you painstakingly use the same ingredients and even bought their overpriced dressing!? Or in the case of the sandwich, you actually purchased the meats, cheeses and bread (and everything else comprising it) from the shop itself.

Well, you are not hallucinating. It is better at the restaurant and it is better when someone else makes it for you. And I'll stretch and assert that it is exponentially even better when someone other that you then serves it and tidies up afterward (but there is no science to back me up on that part).

Ten or so years ago, a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University studied this phenomenon of something tasting better when prepared by someone else and concluded that it is, in fact, a thing. They explain it as being a result of extended exposure to a stimulus — the stimulus is the food you're making and the prolonged exposure is the thinking about/anticipation of eating what you are creating. They proved that the more their subjects imagined eating a specific food, the less they consumed of that food once prepared or presented. The consensus being that we generally eat less of anything we spend time imagining, looking at or actually making. Stated a bit differently, when the desire for a certain food is simply presented to you, where you haven't spent time constructing it beforehand, you are more satisfied with it.  

I began thinking about that phenomenon after several guilt filled weeks of tossing my salad fixings to the rabbits and raccoons and whatever else eats out of the compost pile. I decided to take a break from the self flagellation, resulting from wasting clamshells of salad greens each week and do something different. I made these dips (yes, both of them) and bought, washed and prepped lots of raw veggies. I included the usual suspects like cucumber, carrots and celery, but also radishes, jicama, cauliflower, broccoli and a couple things I'm not sure I had ever even had before in my quest for variety. I figured, the more vegetable options, the less "prolonged exposure to stimulus," and the more my husband and I would enjoy eating our vegetables.

Once everything was prepped and neatly stored, I left it all to rest in the refrigerator. I didn't take a single taste. The next day, I pulled it all out, put some bagged chips and boxed crackers in a bowl, sliced some cheese onto a board — it was one of the best suppers I've made in ages! Zero prep and zero thought about what to have for supper. My husband I both ate more raw veggies that evening than all the wasted and tossed out salad greens combined.  

These dips are delicious, so there is that fact, but the exciting thing is they are different, not predictable like ranch dip. They add pizzazz and interest and give an unexpected zing to fresh sliced vegetables. 

I keep the dry mix for Giddy-Up in a small mason jar in the refrigerator so it's ready to go anytime and I highly suggest you do the same, especially if you're in a salad-slump. Veg out with these dips and lets all pray the heat dome lifts and we can turn our ovens on once again.

Until then, a cold bottle of white wine and these dips with raw veggies might just save the day. 

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.