Wednesday, August 20, 2008've got me wrapped around your finger...

Once upon a time it looked as if the world was being taken over by Chunky Dips.

Of course when I say 'once upon a time', I mean last year and when I say 'world', I mean my local supermarkets and when I say 'taken over' I mean COMPLETE AND TOTAL DOMINATION, BECAUSE THERE IS NO DIP BUT CHUNKY.
Where once we had slid our Arnotts water crackers into the humble hommous or perhaps a tangy yoghurt based dip featuring garlic and chopped herbs, now suddenly we were faced with a veritable barrage of Chunky Dips which came in several Buy Me Now guises: including the Chilli Red, the Roast Pumpkin, the Thai Basil and perhaps the most pernicious and tempting of all: the Roasted Eggplant. These Dips were made chunky by the addition of crushed cashew-nuts and parmesan and we were helpless beneath their thickened nutty mouthfeel and semi spicy flavours.

Dips are an important ingredient in the Big House because dips go with crackers and both of them go with WINE which is top of our food pyramid, just slightly above 70% dark chocolate. Hence my close observation of Chunky Dips, and their oppressive and monolithic march to the top shelf of the refrigerated section.

Yet even as I recognised the danger I could not stop buying the things. If I ventured into a supermarket that did not have the correct brand of Chunky dip (ie Chunky Dip) then I would make a second excursion to a different supermarket and probably even buy an additional Chunky Dip (Red Capsicum say, or Pesto) to compensate for the stress.

It has taken a long time and a renewed fear of saturated fats to drag myself away from the Chunky Dips and back to the salsas.

Now I am noting another foodstuff break away from the pack: the craison or dried cranberry. Tiny, red and wizened, not unlike the testicles of a small garden gnome.

They are generally full of added sugar and some sort of disgusting oil (to prevent clumping) and yet I cannot stop buying them. I have several different packs in the cupboard, a variety of brands and packaging. Every time I shop I find myself lingering around the health food section (in the hopes of organic cranberries that are ‘apple juice only’ sweetened) or if that fails, around the cake ingredients section, eyes on stalks, for that flash of dark red.

Where do the cranberries come from? Yes yes America, thank you, but why are there suddenly so many different packs available. This time last year I was lucky to see a scant pack of Craisons lurking among the prunes but now they’re everywhere. They’ve taken over from the apricot as common or garden variety dried fruit. And where there are cranberries, so too there is me with my wallet in hand and a yearning expression on my face.

I mentioned this to my friend George. He's American and thus has a good working knowledge of the cranberry.

“Ah yes,” he said. “I saw the way you were staring at the ones Dass gave me.”

I drew in a short sharp gasp.
It was true, we were at the park, Dass had pulled out a package and handed it to George, I saw what they were and could barely control myself. I stared at the cranberries, “and…” George continued, “you actually said at the time: are you going to crack those open or what?”

I laughed at this but it was the uncomfortable laugh of someone who thinks maybe they really are a freak after all.

“Why am I so taken with cranberries?” I mused. ”What’s wrong with me?”
“Well they were a very popular band in the 90s,” George pointed out.
“Yes, but didn’t the lead singer go mad?”

I told George about the Chunky Dip phenomenon. He waved this off. “Don’t worry, “ he said “it’s just your obsessive nature.”

I thought about this. My obsessive nature.

It’s true that I have always collected things. Batman cards. Baby jesus figures. In writing this I realize I am nudging a new bent for small windup toys. Some may call this hoarding but I see it as gathering the resources to make an artwork perhaps or in the case of the cranberries, a kickass salad. My stepmum had made me a delicious wholegrain salad a few weeks back that contained cranberries. Having only bought them once before, since getting that recipe, cranberries had become my number one shopping item, above milk, bread and nappies.

"So really I’m just collecting cranberries," I said to George. "It’s like at the moment I’m in the middle of a cranberry craze. And last year I was caught up in a Chunky Dip craze."

"That’s all it is," he said.

I found this new understanding of myself to be…comforting. Collecting cranberries wasn’t strange at all. It was just something I did. Like parking badly. Like hiding in theatre foyers. Like kissing my baby.

And now having thought about all this, I can even sense my appreciation for cranberries beginning to wane. There’s only so much wholegrain salad you can eat in the middle of winter.

Those little windup toys though….


Betty Flocken said...

Cranberries have exploded here in the States too. I'm still only a Thanksgiving Eater of Cranberries.. They go with the Turkey we eat in November in Thanksgiving. I love your wind up dolls!

Anonymous said...

I just tried Ocean Spray Cranberry/Blueberry juice. As much as I love cran juice, and blueberries, together in a juice? Not so much. It smeeled like pie. (mmmmmmm pie) but had a strange taste.

I have a bunch of those wind-up toys too, but they are all Easter Themed.... bunnies, chicks, etc....

Anonymous said...

I've gone mad for the Ugly Dolls. Zoey has about seven (I can't go in her room to count because she's napping... and I know better than to enter the realm of sleeping babe). Zoey has not much interest in the dolls at all unless there is nothing else around to stick in her mouth.

mig bardsley said...

I'm collecting dishwasher parts at the moment. Every time I have to order a new wheel I wonder if I ought to lay in a stock or whether the machine will fall apart completely before I can use them. Actually I think it's a compensatory activity because camera parts are too expensive to collect!
(But then I am really weird :)

WonderMama said...

Try them in cookies with chocolate chips....
Or in muffins with mandarin oranges.

I could eat an entire can of that congealed cranberry jelly stuff that you have to cut into slices.