by Alexis Massie
"Mommy, Where Do Pickles Come From?"
I probably shouldn't drink the brine. But who could resist? It's like ingesting liquid pickle: bitter, tangy, salty. My mouth salivates at the prospect.
I have always been wildly addicted to pickles. The cheaper the brand, the better for me. You wont find me holding the Yuppie "Deli Style" variety found in affluent SuperStores, those pathetically bland pale green grey "half dill" monstrosities that were so popular throughout the '80's; I detour past summertime grocery display bins of potato chips, onion rolls and "gourmet pickles" to my trusty aisle seven, where the real pickles live, crammed like coy penises in their deep green seas. That's when I feel saliva fill my mouth.
When I was a little girl, I'd eat entire jars in one sitting. Then, I'd sip at the vinegar marinade for the rest of the day. Most of my girlfriends were aching over tummies full of chocolate; mine was always full of salt and acid. When I discovered that a glass of milk will dissolve any digestive ills, there was no stopping me from falling headlong into lifelong addiction.
At my lowest point, I was into store brand pickles. Acme, Stop&Shop, Star Market, President's Choice, you name it, I ate it. I bought enormous jars crammed with spears of the most unearthly color; not quite yellow, but not quite green, either. They would glow on the shelves of the supermarket, luring me toward them. These pickles had lost all touch with reality, had ceased to resemble their first cucumber incarnation in any way, seeped with chemicals concocted by the most frugal of food product specialists. I used them as night lights.
I don't regret it, though, I really don't. Now I can forecast a pickle's taste based purely on its color. If it's pale, they doused it with water, and it will taste that way. If it's yellow, well, you don't want to know what they did to it. Let's just say that shit's been cut. What I want is a deep green in the skin of pickle, and a perfect emerald color in the meat. If I can see the seeds, I make sure that they're firmly embedded in the pickle, and not too large. The brine should be emerald, with strange mysterious white bits floating in the bottom. I don't know what they are, but I have a deep abiding faith that the white bits are the magic bits that make the pickle taste so good. But it's the color tells you that it's safe.
I tried them all. These days, one brand seems a recurring visitor to my refridgerator -- Vlasic. Maybe it's that charming stork promising conceptions of crunch and pucker which graces the label of the jar, or perhaps it's the name itself: "Vlasic," like "Elastic." Perhaps it's the mysterious design that they trace to serve as the dot for their "i," a symbol that could be a flower, could be atom, or may be a secret signal to their co-conspirators. Hard to know for sure; it's all irresistible.
Pickles are the perfect non-food. Whenever I get fat, I go on a pickles and V-8 diet, which clears that little problem right up. Of course, neither are particularly good for you in the grand scheme of things. A diet consisting of salt and more salt isn't a lifestyle my mother necessarily approves of, if you know what I mean. Still, a 32 fluid oz jar of Vlasic Baby Whole Kosher Dill Pickles ("BIG TASTE BIG CRUNCH!") has only 98 calories and is completely fat free. The choice is clear.
The best ones, of course, are the baby whole pickles. The sliced quartered pickles are okay, but they can't compete with the baby kosher dills. The baby dills are firmer, less likely to droop in that disappointing soggy manner; they usually come with a little stem which may be used to dangle the pickle over the mouth; and besides, I respect a pickle that hides its seeds inside. Each one is a surprise.
But I shouldn't drink the brine. I know. I know.
in the junk drawer:
·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·back issues· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·
·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·archive·
copyright © 1996 - 1998 fearless media