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
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.