Early in Dante’s career as an eater, we kept trying to figure out ways to get him to ingest protein and vegetables. Here was some very common advice: “Give him something to dip it in! Kids love to dip!” This strategy was an utter failure… at first. He had no interest whatsoever in dipping anything into anything else, until suddenly all he wanted was to dip things into other things.
Now he is, in an astronomical pun I’m sure he would appreciate, a very Big Dipper. He’ll dip chicken into ketchup. He’ll dip carrots into ranch dressing. He’ll dip fish sticks into, for some reason, Italian dressing. Actually, he will dip lots and lots of things into ketchup, ranch dressing, or Italian dressing. For a long time, in fact, all he’d do is slurp the dipping material off the dipping object. I have a clear memory of admonishing him to eat the potato chip, not just the ketchup he’d dipped it into. For this I was roundly mocked by Trrish, who pointed out that ketchup may actually be a slightly healthier food than potato chips anyway.
Of late, the dipping has exploded in exciting new directions. At one point, in another attempt to make vegetables seductive, I introduced him to Spike. Now, once every few weeks, he asks to sprinkle Spike on, well, whatever. He’s had it on apples, on fish, on crackers, on lunchmeat, and on and on. At first he sprinkles the Spike onto the target, and then he just makes a big pile of Spike for dipping.
The popularity of the Spike pales, however, in comparison to the popularity of vinegar. I’m pretty sure vinegar has become his favorite condiment. We have some spray-on balsamic vinegar and oil that has become best friends with any pasta salad Dante attempts to eat. Once again, he starts out spraying the vinegar onto the pasta salad, and then makes a big puddle of vinegar in which to dip the pasta salad. He also frequently requests a side bowl of malt vinegar. Again, this can go with pretty much any food, though it is a particular hit with salty foods.
For that matter, he periodically requests just a small bowl of salt. I’m not kidding. When questioned about this, he says, “I like strong tastes!” (Though for the record, he reflexively rejects anything too spicy.) Then he says, “Would you like some salt?”
Tonight he saw me sprinkle some soy sauce onto my chicken and broccoli, and of course, was intrigued. He asked me if he could try some, so I set him up with a little bowl of it. He started dipping Ritz crackers into it and munching. I asked him what he thought. “Good!” he said.