The food we’d give anything for + tuna dip with a kick
The everyday traditions we create over our lifetimes.
We’ve been talking a ton lately about the things our parents made for us growing up — the household staples they made over and over again for school night dinners. They were the dishes ordered without fail from our rotation of five takeout spots. They were weird, highly-specific, and different for all of us, and almost always involved a microwave and a can of something. For Niki’s family, it was Tuna-Mato (boxed mac and cheese, a can of tuna, and a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes). For Anna and Julia, it was a crockpot chicken stew that boasted no less than three cans of cream of mushroom. And for Forrest, it was cannibal sandwiches, which you can Google. (It’s just raw beef and onions.)
It might just be this tough year, but we’re all finding ourselves craving these comforts from our childhoods. We complained as kids: This, again?! (Because when you’re eight, you don’t quite have a grasp on how hard it is to work full time and meal plan for an entire family). But now, we’d give just about anything to have Mom cook us a recipe she read on the back of a box ten years ago for the third time this week.
Now that we’re deep into holiday season and IT LOOKS A LITTLE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR™, it’s hard not to think about the foods — made for us with care by people we love — that we’ve taken for granted.
This week’s recipe is tuna dip with a kick. Niki’s dad made it every year for family parties and celebrations. Dipping a blue corn tortilla chip into this dip is like being a kid again — it’s the most familiar feeling, even if you didn’t grow up with it. It’s the stuff that reminds us of our families, of the little, everyday traditions we create over our lifetimes. Bite by bite, we’re still in it together.
We’re taking the rest of the year off from the newsletter, but we’ll be back in early January. Thank you for reading, for responding, and for tagging us in pictures. See you in the new year — here’s to a better 2021.
Tuna dip with a kick
Niki says: “This dip was a staple at all family gatherings when I was growing up. In doing some digging about this recipe, I learned that it’s based on one from a defunct chain of restaurants in LA and Miami called Carlos & Pepe’s. If you wanted to do it up properly, you would serve this in one of those platters with the dip bowl built in, and you would serve it with blue corn tortilla chips, as we always did.”
Best served to two, standing at the kitchen counter
½ white onion (or 1 large shallot), chopped
1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup leaves and tender stems)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño, chopped
1 tablespoon liquid from jalapeño
1 cup mayo
8 oz tuna in water, drained
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Blue corn tortilla chips or assorted crudités
Add the onion, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, pickling liquid, and mayo to a blender or food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
Add the tuna and black pepper and pulse quickly. The dip should have some texture, so don’t overdo it.
Serve chilled with chips or crudités.
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