Food and Drink

Peppermint Says Now is the Time to Be Loud, Proud, and Registered to Vote

Plus, the singer-actress dishes on her latest R&B tour and filming ‘Fire Island.'

Photo by Robert Frashure
Photo by Robert Frashure
Photo by Robert Frashure

Ever since her boundary-breaking appearance as the first out trans cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Peppermint has been keeping rather busy. From performances on Broadway to co-hosting her own drag competition show, Call Me Mother, she gives new meaning to the term “multi-hyphenate.” She and I recently caught up via video chat to talk about her latest tour, the realities of dating while trans, and the importance of local politics.

Thrillist: How are you doing?

Peppermint: I’ve got an abundance of gratitude. Throughout the pandemic I’ve been really fortunate to be able to work and continue to pay the bills and to create. There certainly were some difficult times which meant I had to sacrifice one thing or another, or lean into something a little bit more than I might normally need. But it feels great.

These past couple of years have been transformative in many ways. It reminds me of experiences in the past. I used to work makeup full time and then ended up leaving that and having no other prospects and I was like, Well I guess I’m going to do drag full time! And so that’s what I did and I never looked back.

I need to talk about the choreography video you did to Janet Jackson’s “If.” I had the cassette single when I was 10 years old and it was my first introduction to Janet. What made you pick that song?

It’s definitely one of her most iconic in terms of dance. I’m not a professional dancer by trade, but I would argue that, for those who study choreography and who are interested in the history of pop dance, it’s probably one of the top ten pieces. It’s clearly inspired so many other pieces.

When it came out, I learned the choreography immediately. If you were around and we had some free time, you were learning that choreo! When I was in high school, when I was a camp counsellor, I taught it to everyone. I remember doing it so much as a kid and never had a chance to commemorate it until now. So I was like, you know what, while I still have one good knee, let’s go back and do the moves and get it on video. Let’s make a tribute to Janet. Hopefully she’s pleased by it-she retweeted it. And I think we’re going to do another one.

Photo by Robert Frashure
Photo by Robert Frashure
Photo by Robert Frashure

Your tour that just wrapped up. Can you talk about that?

Speaking of Janet, a lot of my live performances have really been inspired by her style of presentation: dancers and a band and all this and that. This album, Letters to my Lovers, which is very ’90s R&B, doesn’t call for any of that. So was my first tour where I was out alone. Well, not alone; I have my musical director Daniel and musicians playing along with me on stage.

This was my first chance to watch people connect to this music, which is about my most recent relationship. It was the best one I’d been in so far. With a lot of the other relationships I’ve had, if you’re dating someone in the closet, it has a lot of the same, um, features as a lot of trans people and especially trans women experience dating people who don’t identify with being queer. They’re straight, but they don’t know how to publicly navigate their connection to dating a trans person, which oftentimes means a lot of secrecy, a lot of shame. This was the first time I dated someone who wasn’t in that situation. We were just out in public doing our thing. We would argue about the dumbest, regular things: what to watch, the toilet seat. It was refreshing.

That’s what the relationship was, and it ended. And I wrote three EPs worth of feelings and emotions-Taylor Swift and Adele-style [laughs]. It’s basically the beginning, middle, and end of the relationship. It’s about love and acceptance, relationships, fuck boys, dating drama…all that through a nineties, early 2000s R&B lens.

I loved seeing you in the movie Fire Island. What was that experience like?

It was so much fun. For me it was a quick experience, only one full day of filming. It was great to be with the entire cast and hang out with everybody. It feels good to be a part of movies and TV shows that are retelling classics.

I think Fire Island does a great job of really making the story their own. Joel Kim Booster did a great job of retelling the story in a completely new, queer, Asian-American way. I just love that the cast is so diverse and so strong in comedy. It’s a beautiful love story and I think it will provide a huge education for people who have never been to Fire Island.

Yeah, going to that part of Fire Island is a very specific experience. Anything else you want to talk about?

This is out of left field, but hopefully since there are some queer folks and allies reading this, I want to ask people to put extra energy into going out and specifically supporting queer folks and trans artists who are out there right now trying to create art and stay visible in a world-in a country-that’s in many states trying to make it harder for us to be visible legally right now.

In addition to that, just everyone register to vote right now because in a few months is the midterms, which means you have the opportunity to put a barrier between those who have higher aspirations in politics nationally who are coming up through the ranks in your cities and states. So please get into local elections. Find out who is in your city council, in your district, and vote for the person you think will do the best at each level. Take care, honey! Read up on it!

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John deBary is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book, Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book, Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

Food and Drink

We Tried 22 Trader Joe's Dips and Here's How They Stack Up

From vegan tzatziki to fiery Zhoug sauce to classic spinach, these deserve a spot in your cart.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

With football season looming over us, that only means one thing: dip season is back. Whether you’re gathering for an end-of-summer bash, watching the game, or in dire need of a snack to indulge in while binge watching the latest Netflix series to drop, dips are the perfect option. And at Trader Joe’s, there are a lot of dips to choose from.

That’s why we decided to write this guide to dips, with helpful pairing ideas for each. So whether you’re interested in something spicy and don’t know what to eat with Zhoug sauce, or you want a classic spinach dip, these are almost all the dips at Trader Joe’s reviewed for your needs (we’ve excluded hummus and salsas, otherwise it’d be miles long and your heartburn would be even worse).

Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

This Buffalo-style chicken dip is a cult favourite and with good reason. The sharp tang and heat of Buffalo sauce is present, but relatively mild in terms of spice level. That, paired with the tub of shredded chicken, makes for a filling dip ideal for watching a sports game. Although Trader Joe’s suggests eating it hot, it’s delightful cold as well.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Caramelized Onion Dip

The caramelized onion dip is one of my favourites that Trader Joe’s has produced. It’s delectably sweet, like a French onion soup, but balanced perfectly with the tang of the sour cream and mayo base. The texture of this dip is mousse-like; fluffy, light, and airy. It’s an onion dip but upgraded.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Chimichurri Sauce

Although this chimichurri sauce lives in the dip section, we think of it more as a condiment. It’s lovely topped on meats or slathered in sandwiches. The ingredients are simple-parsley and cilantro are the defining items here-but you’re left with a very flavorful and aromatic olive oil-based sauce. If you really want to use it as a dip for crostinis, that would work, too.
Pair with: eggs, steak, shrimp, rice

Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip

This dip can be heated up or eaten straight from the fridge-both versions remain creamy, piquant, and spectacularly chunky, as advertised. The main flavour takeaway is the artichoke, which this dip is loaded with, but you will feel a tingle of spice from the jalapeños, too. It reminds me of schmear and would definitely make a great spread for a bagel.
Pair with: bagels or bagel chips, tortilla chips, pretzels

Cauliflower Jalapeño Dip

Of all the dips, this one took me the most by surprise. I associate cauliflower with blandness, but this is far from that. It has a smooth texture (which surprised me because cauliflower can also be gritty), and a subtle heat from the jalapeños. I would prefer a bit more jalapeño, but it’s mild enough that anyone can enjoy this at a party.
Pair with: Veggie tray, potato chips, strawberry & jalapeño crisps

Everything and the Elote

Maybe it’s the fact that fresh elote is so amazing that renders this dip a little bit disappointing in comparison. It’s seasoned well with chipotle, cumin, and chili powder. But what it’s really lacking is in the name. There’s not enough sweet corn kernels in this dip to balance out the other spices and the cheese. Perhaps if you added this fresh corn, you could make a large batch of esquites.
Pair with: organic corn dippers, corn salad

Everything But the Bagel

I do feel like it was a misstep to use a Greek yogurt base rather than a sour cream and cream cheese blend for this dip to really give the vibe of breakfast bagels. Sure, the Greek yogurt is still sharp and smooth, but the dip feels runnier than it should be. That being said, if you’re a fan of everything bagels and the seasoning blend Trader Joe’s makes, this will fulfil you: poppy seeds, dehydrated onion, dried garlic, and black sesame seeds galore.
Pair with: bagel chips, Everything But the Bagel crackers

Garlic Spread Dip

It’s obscene how delicious this garlic spread dip tastes on just about everything. Personally, I can eat it by the spoonful. It’s smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of lemon juice and the unmistakable aroma of garlic. Yes, it’s delicious by the spoonful, but would also be delicious in a thousand other applications.
Pair with: pita bread, rotisserie chicken, tortillas, sandwiches, honestly everything

Green Goddess Dip

Like the titular salad, this dip is bright, very green, and refreshingly herbaceous. The avocado and green onion are strengthened by garlic, shallots, chives, and basil. Unlike homemade versions, this dip contains both eggs and sour cream, so keep that in mind for plant-based friends.
Pair with: sandwiches, salads, veggie trays, multigrain crackers

Herbed Tahini Sauce

I was expecting a stronger nuttiness from this herbed tahini sauce, but the dominating flavour is garlic and a tartness from the citric acid. It’s still refreshing and a great partner to falafel and sandwiches, but the tahini flavour is in the background. I can really envision this as a successful sauce for a cold noodle salad, spruced up with additional sesame seeds and perhaps a dollop of chilli crisp.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, garlic pita chips, cold noodles

Olive Tapenade

If you’re an olive fan, this Trader Joe’s tapenade will hit the spot. Crafted from a blend of black olives, green olives, and pimentos, it’s the right amount of saltiness and perfect chunky consistency for scooping. It would fare well atop hummus, scooped into a pasta salad, or just eaten straight.
Pair with: a charcuterie board, fig & olive crisps, pasta salad

Pimento Cheese Dip

I would argue that this pimento cheese dip does the Southern classic justice. Each bite is full of sharp cheddar and studded with diced pimentos for a dip that is simultaneously chunky and creamy. Would be excellent on a pimento cheese sandwich.
Pair with: multigrain crackers, tortilla chips, bread for a sandwich

Romesco Dip

The romesco dip is like summer unlocked through a small, eight-ounce container. There’s a brightness from tomatoes, a fuller, rounder flavour from roasted red peppers, and nuttiness from almonds. I think of it as a red almond pesto, almost. It’s great with veggies, could be tossed in a pasta, or just eaten with a hefty cracker.
Pair with: pasta, veggies sticks, raisin and rosemary crisps

Smoked Salmon Dip

If you’re a fan of lox, you’ll be a fan of this dip. It’s briny and salty and pleasantly fishy but the capers work well to cut through a flavour that may otherwise feel overwhelmingly rich. There is a generous amount of fish in this dip, as well as seasoning, so it really only needs a blank canvas to let it shine.
Pair with: bagels, multigrain crackers, or even pasta (try this Trader Joe’s recipe)

Sour Cream Spinach Dip

This is perfectly acceptable. It is not the most exciting dip on this list, but it does provide that classic spinach dip flavour, albeit a bit more tart due to the sour cream base. It would benefit from some cheese, but as far as dips go, it is thick, creamy, and very scoopable.
Pair with: toasted baguettes, multigrain crackers, a cheese board

Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Like the other spinach dip, this dip isn’t mind-boggling, but a twist on the classic that only clocks in at 30 calories per serving. The kale adds a tiny bit more dimension to this otherwise regular dip. Put this out on game day and surely it will be consumed; there are just better dip options here.
Pair with: toasted baguette, fig & olive crisps, Everything but the Bagel crackers.

Tzatziki

Trader Joe’s does this classic condiment justice. It begins with a kefir cheese and sour cream base that’s filled with sliced cucumber, plenty of dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use this dip as a side for a gyro plate.
Pair with: Dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Vegan Buffalo Dip

This is a very successful reinterpretation of Buffalo dip. It’s tangy and zesty, with all the qualities that make for a plant-based alternative to this classic. One critique is that once opened, it does tend to get watery fast, but the flavour is so good that if you bring this to a party, it likely won’t last very long.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

This is not far off from the regular caramelized onion dip. The flavour is still sweet and savoury, there are large squares of perfectly browned onions in each bite, and the consistency is creamy. I would say it’s not quite as light and fluffy, like mousse, as the original-but the dairy-free cream cheese base is still a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Vegan Nacho Dip

Vegan cheese can be a hit or a miss, but Trader Joe’s succeeds here. This cashew-based dip is luxuriously creamy and has all the meltiness a regular nacho cheese would also possess. You won’t find grittiness here, but will find a flavour that has the desired saltiness that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Just make sure you don’t overheat the dip and stir constantly-like dairy cheese, it will split otherwise.
Pair with: tortilla chips, tacos, burritos, fries

Vegan Tzatziki Dip

I’m amazed at this vegan tzatziki dip. Trader Joe’s has truly found something special with its dairy-free, cream cheese base. This is just as tangy, dilly, and cucumber-filled as its yogurt counterpart, meaning it’s delicious.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Zhoug Sauce

This Zhoug sauce is amazing. It’s herbaceous and fiery and flavorful-definitely the spiciest dip of the bunch. What I really love about it is how simple the ingredients are (only eight things in total!) and how they all work in tandem. Cilantro is undoubtedly the star, sure, but pops of cumin and cardamom paired with the heat of chile flakes and jalapeños really adds dimension to this Yemeni-inspired dip.
Pair with: eggs, garlic naan chips, organic corn dippers, or your favourite protein.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

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