In Praise of the Pickle
Pickles know no boundaries. Photo credit: avrene via Visual hunt / CC BY
Few foods send my palate soaring like pickles. The only definitive parts of a pickle include vinegar, salt and/or sugar, with the goal of preservation. Beyond that, let the fun begin. Any additional flavors are added for pure pleasure. Pucker follows the first bite, then a moment of the pickled object’s flavor, serenaded by garlic, cloves, dill, cinnamon, mustard seed, red pepper, bay leaves, cardamom, ginger, and so on.
Photo credit: It’sGreg via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND
A need for food preservation prior to refrigeration led many cultures to the pickle; they make for a great international tour. Some of my favorites include Japanese pickles, such as the long thing carrots you might find in chirashi sushi plates, or the pickled pumpkin found in sushi, kanpyo. And what about the Moroccan preserved lemons? And so forth.
Then there are the pickles I claim as relatives, as old friends, as heritage. They are the pickles that extend the waning garden, or use the pieces of fruit you can’t otherwise eat. Green tomato pickles when the weather will no longer warm the plants enough to turn the fruits ripe and red. Watermelon rind pickles preserve the parts you would otherwise throw away, transformed into a sweet tangy delight, tinged pink.
Time for a cornichon.
The British Housewife by Martha Bradley, London, c. 1760, p. 6.