The recipe for the perfect dip is not so much handed down between Kiwis, it's a genetic memory - you're born with it. And why not, it's so easy to remember. One tin of reduced cream, one packet of dried onion soup mix, a squirt of lemon juice (or white vinegar). And in case you can't remember it, you can buy a bowl with it on.
Reduced cream is so much associated with the "original Kiwi dip" that the dip designation is plastered all over Nestlé's cans and their product web site (incidentally, first hit for the term on The Google, unless you're in Canada, in which case the first hit is Homesick Kiwi, who are willing to gouge you on the price of some). It doesn't even have to be Nestlé - I used to buy Pam's reduced cream from the Pak, and mix it with bacon and onion soup.
We were in the supermarket the other day and Fern picked up some chips. The subject of dip came up, and even though I'd not seen it before, a package of dried onion soup mix was easily found. "Perfect for dips!", it claimed. "Just add sour cream".
Now, I don't know about you, but avoiding pre-made sour cream dips is the general reason for making the reduced cream dip in the first place. And I was born a guardian of The Recipe. So off to reduced-cream-ville it was. I knew where I'd find the stuff, and wandered down the aisle. Where do they keep the reduced cream? Right by the condensed milk, of course. I knew where to find that. And sure enough, right next to it, a half dozen varieties of evaporated milk, but no reduced cream.
Dilemma. Whipping out my iPhone G1 lame piece of corporate RIM crap, I soon found out that the only mentions of reduced cream on the Internet were from NZ. I'd never thought about it that way, but it's kiwiana. I am forced to believe it only exists in order to one day become dip. It therefore goes in the pile of Things I Can't Have, right next to correct-recipe Creme Eggs and Twisties. Seems that reduced cream was in vogue for making white sauces "in the era of nouvelle cuisine", but now only really used in Nouvelle-Zélande.
Never one to shy away from improvising though! I grabbed a can of evaporated milk - how different could it be? - and headed home.
Well, it wasn't thick and creamy, for starters. It had about the consistency of regular milk. And it didn't look like dip when mixed with the soup packet. So I did what any good cook would do - I reduced it, in a pot on the stove, and I added cream.
I don't think it's actually the milk's fault. I think the milk was OK. I suspect it was the soup mix that really needs to evaluate its place on the shelf. Eventually, I got something which tastes quite edible, but Fern wouldn't touch. See if you can figure out why.