I have decided to do two blog entries in a row on the subject of pickles. This may or may not provide an accurate window into just how exciting my life is right now.

But then, this is also the internet we're talking about, and I'd frankly be surprised if there wasn't at least one full-time, daily pickle journal in the crowd. The Japanese probably have a dozen of them based in the Kyoto area alone, although they don't, as a rule, restrict themselves to the standard American pickling vessel, which is the exalted and versatile cucumber. In this area, they lag, though that in no way diminishes the enormous strides they have made in the pickling of other substances, such as melons and small mammals.

I'm strictly a cucumber-centric pickler, myself. Though I have tried other pickled items -- corn, eggs -- they fall somewhat short of the cucumber pickle in a large number of areas, such as taste and staying in your stomach. The traditional kosher dill is my pickle of choice, though anybody who's trod the land in this country knows that the varieties thereof are as many as the grains of sand on the beach, provided it's a small, slate beach with a thin sprinkling of sand atop it.

In case you've wondered -- and I have, which is why I just looked it up -- the "kosher" in kosher dills no longer refers to an adherence to rabbinically-supervised preparation methods, but is merely linked to a particular spectrum of flavor. Thus, if you're thinking about pickles for Passover, consult your temple first. Latke should still be fair game.

Every region, company and grandmother in the trade produces a different range of pickle, owing largely to the fact that the pickling process itself has so much room for recipe-switching. What is a pickle, anyway, but a brine-mummified cucumber? There are many means to that end, and while it's easy to end up with a lousy end product, I'd still crunch through a dozen bad pickles to reach a good one.

My current favorite, widely-available brand of kosher dill are manufactured by Bloch & Guggenheim, an outfit with a distinctly old-fashioned approach to pickle design: heavy on spices, medium-strength brine. They remind me of my grandmother's homemade pickles, though -- sorry, grandmother -- decidedly crunchier.

The point of all this is, basically, I could sure go for a pickle, right now. Back on monday.



Check out Hsu and Arnie in an EGM reprint, "Wrested Peace," in the archive!

All content copyright 2006 (or earlier-like) Jeremy "Norm" Scott, all rights reserved.