The spring of 1987 I went to a Beltane celebration at the home of a Wiccan witch.
Now, that might not seem that odd, but at the time it was very daring and a little scary.
I was dating a very sweet fellow that lived with his mother, who was very eccentric.
Looking back on things, I imagine that she was less eccentric and I was more provincial than I thought at the time, but for me, at 19, she was a bit of a kook, but i digress...
Let me set the scene.
Despite being very open minded and progressive, I come from a very conservative family, and in my heart of hearts I am a fairly square person, in many respects.
So imagine me dating this long haired, fey guy, with a super, kooky mother, attending college and meeting this Wiccan witch in a women's studies class.
I thought I was really out there.
It was certainly a time for change in my life, and some of my fondest memories are of that time, but once again I am getting off course.
I am in a women's literature class, and am invited to a Beltane celebration at the home of this witch.
My boyfriend had to work, so I invited his mother, in a misguided effort make her like me a bit more, since she liked me very, very little, due to the fact that I would clean her house, each time I visited, which she found declasse.
I think she also had some issue with blonds or perhaps with women that weren't ugly, austere and severe, but that part was sort of unclear, since she loved all things Scandinavian.
I was then, and continue to be very uncomfortable with people not liking me, so this was a fairly big deal.
She hated all traditional things, all things domestic and mostly she loved to revel in her bohemianness, read Ibsen plays, complain about her elderly mother who supported her and her three grown up children (grandma loved me- ha!), flip through Gardener's Art through the ages, drink sherry, plot ways to bust her mentally ill boyfriend out of the state hospital, where he was committed for thinking he was from Venus (no, really, he thought he was from Venus when medicated, and former CIA, when less medicated).
So, I thought this whole Beltane thing would score me major street cred, so I invited her.
Man, was she ever excited, just as I had hoped!
So off we went, into the night, to what at the time felt like the end of the world, but I realize now, was actually pretty close to where I live now.
Imagine our disappointment, when the witch house turned out the be a sort of tacky subdivision job, and the party was just a sort of regular old party, except for a few more lesbian couples than I was used to seeing.
No one howled at the moon.
No one danced naked.
The only saving grace was this fantastic dip served in a hollowed out loaf of bread.
It was so good, that for the next few years I made it for every special occasion, and even brought it to my dad's house, where my step mother asked for the recipe.
Not being really big on recipes, I had no good answer so I wrote down what I did, and guesstimated on the amounts, gave it a corny name, and VIOLA! Everyone is delighted.
Over the years I have encountered a million and one versions of this dip- my friend Dom used to make it cold with spinach and water chestnuts and sour cream.
I like to bake it with bay shrimp and artichoke hearts, garlic and spinach, and sometimes crab.
So imagine my amusement when my dad calls me up last week and tells me my niece is making Shepard's bread, which has become a sort of heirloom recipe in their family.