Double-dipping has nothing to do with water

This will be an educational column, so pay close attention!

Having just returned from two week’s worth of traveling and eating out for every single meal, I’m reminded of one of the first times I really ventured outside The Magnolia State.

Conventions/Conferences are the sort of thing that took me out of the state way back in my college days. And, of course, with those, come parties. Parties are usually a good time for good food; things like desserts and finger foods, dipping things into sauce and all that.

I’d never heard of double dipping until I moved to California in 1992. Don’t laugh, it gets worse: I was already 28 years old at the time! That lack of knowledge was made worse by the fact that I was out at a nice restaurant with my fellow employees of Malibu Comics.

As we joked and cut up, I suddenly heard the words, “Roland, you just double dipped,” and I stopped cold in my tracks.
I reflected momentarily on my status at the table—all eyes on me—and I returned, “I most certainly did not. You must be mistaken.”

Fortunately for me, my accent was still generally the hit of the party and would be so for several more months. (Hint to high-schoolers—moving up north or out west will make you popular, especially with members of the opposite sex as they’ll ask you to continually repeat things they find “cute”) And while I’m certain that I did not say it this way, I’m sure those around the table heard a very Foghorn-Leghorn-like drawling “suh” at the conclusion of my defense: “Ah mos’ su-inly did nawt. You must be mistaken, suh!”

Someone, possibly sensing my plight, picked a portion of what I’d said and proceeded to laugh and ask me to repeat it-as they often did. Attentions were drawn elsewhere as others around the table attempted to mimic my accent, and I was saved from potential embarrassment.

But I’m not a complete idiot (despite what others may say). I suspected what double dipping might be, but I didn’t know any of the rules. At home, we were just all the same family, and if we double dipped—which I’m quite sure we did—none of us thought anything about it. Maybe that is why I’d never heard it. To some extent, Southerners as a whole are “one big happy family,” and I’d never heard the saying even among friends. Granted, I’ve heard it considerably since my return, probably thanks to a Jerry Seinfeld episode.

The event, however, did make me stop and think: exactly what is double dipping. If I dip a carrot into some vegetable sauce and bite it off with my teeth, can I re-dip the carrot? What if the carrot breaks? Do the lips have to touch the offending piece of food for it to be considered a double dip? Is there just thing as a legal double-dip because it was a teeth-only bite? What about biting one end and then “second” dipping the opposite end? Is that still double-dipping? I felt quite certain that I could not re-dip a hotwing. However, I wondered could I dip and then proceeded to “pull” the skin off, and then re-dip the undipped and untouched portion? After all, my teeth would have only touched the skin and not the meaty layer. And what about chips? Most people will break a chip when they bite it. Can that chip be re-dipped, or should one just plan to devour said chip in a single dip? Same for a french fry. Why don’t they teach this stuff in school–instead of showing so many movies?

For those of you out there who find yourself in the same position, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned. Double dipping is apparently the act of dipping a food item into a “community” container of appropriate sauce, taking a bite, and then dipping that same food item back into the sauce container again.

And it’s considered a no-no. Don’t do it. Especially not in public.

However, for those of you who cannot break the habit of double-dipping, here is a simple solution to your problem: spoon out the sauce on your own plate and dip—doubled or tripled—to your heart’s content.

However, don’t lick the serving spoon!


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