Now that the flood waters the spring season are receding, we can move on to more trivial matters. Like honey dill sauce. And why Manitobans lose their minds over it. (I know, I know…I’m going to make some enemies over this one!)
In this fine city, honey dill sauce is the standard dip for chicken fingers almost everywhere you go, and as far as I can tell, this is a true “Manitoba Thing”.
I don’t know about you, but I take my chicken fingers and their accoutrements very seriously. My first exposure to the offending condiment was at Mitzi’s, which apparently holds the title of “Best Chicken Fingers in Town”. (You know how I feel about “best in the city” claims…) I went to Mitzi’s with a friend and we ordered the traditional chicken fingers and fries meal. (Incidentally, I didn’t think the chicken fingers were anything to write home about, although many trip advisers beg to differ.)
Until that day, in my world, the standard dip for chicken fingers had always been plum sauce. And failing that, barbeque sauce. But that day I was introduced to a creamy dip made of mayo, honey, and dill. Suddenly, for the first time, I was homesick for Alberta, and its normal, appropriate sauces.
Honey dill sauce is wrong for many reasons. First, and most importantly, why would you take three ingredients (honey, mayo, dill) that are inherently delicious on their own and combine them into a creepy, ambiguous sauce (is it sweet? is it savoury? why is it green-ish? and… semi-opaque?). And then, inflict it on one of the world’s greatest foods? Second, chicken fingers are already pretty bad for you. Why smother each bite in more saturated fat?
In my books, nothing beats a nice tangy plum or barbeque sauce. But not in Manitoba. I’m told that honey dill is standard here, and failing that, honey mustard. WHAT?
Honey dill sauce is everywhere: a mom ‘n’ pop diners, chain restaurants, and as I discovered more recently, curling clubs, where when they run out of honey dill dip, they just substitute tartar sauce (okay, so that only happened to me once, but it left a lasting impression!). In researching this post, I discovered that item #269 on this “You know you’re from Winnipeg when…” list is “You dip everything in honey dill sauce.” One dude even says the chicken’s just a vehicle for the sauce! Greetalia, which commercially produces the sauce, claims it’s “one of the most popular chicken finger condiments on the market”. Did Greetalia popularize the sauce? Or just seize the opportunity to market a product that people were already crazy about? (Smart, either way!)
I just don’t get it. I really want to embrace Manitoba “things”, but this is one I just can’t get into. Manitoba, you’re so sweet and quaint and in touch with that really matters in life…except when it comes to your chicken finger sauces.
And yet, I’m intrigued. Manitobans’ love of the sauce seems to be right up there with imperial cookies and rye bread. Should I just learn to love it?
What do you think? Honey dill sauce – boon or bane? Have you encountered the prevalence of this dipping sauce as much as I have? And does anyone know how this sauce became the province’s standard?