Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pickles in the Genes

While fermented foods are nothing new, especially in a city like Milwaukee, where new eateries and gastropubs are as plentiful as dandelions, and the German heritage of the city almost obligates at least a sip of beer and a taste of kraut, I am compelled to write about them. You may wonder why...

A yid vet shtendik gifinnen a zoyere ugerke.  A Jew will always find a pickle.  In my humble opinion, this should be a Yiddish saying.  It certainly is my mantra.  As far back as I can remember, I have savored the green, sour, salt-laden cukes; of course my favorites are sour green tomatoes- the kind you find in delis on the East Coast- and when I realized that the Russians in Milwaukee had made it possible for me to eat them, I almost wanted to swear allegiance to the Russian flag (almost...).  

Growing up with Jewish parents from Philly, any time there were sour tomatoes, half-dones or full-dones around, it was a big deal, especially since we lived in the Mid-West.  Whenever my grandparents called from the City of Brotherly Love, my mouth began to go into shock, as some kind of Pavlovian response triggered my salivary glands to go into over-drive.  There was not even a mention of tomatoes, but I had begun to associate the brash, Brooklyn-accented voice of my grandfather or the Philly-infused patois of my Aunt Sandi and Uncle Marvin with the green, globular, garlicky treats.  When blessed with the occasion to visit them, unlike other kids, our obnoxiously persistent whining was not linked to some chocolaty delight, did not target a creamy, cold cone of ice cream, did not evoque a sugary, granular delice; it simply meant that we were jonesing for a taste of briny, crisp sour tomatoes found for free on the tables of Ben and Irv's deli in Suburban Philly, where my Aunt Sandi and Uncle Marvin would take us for our fix.  As a result of our admittedly salty addiction, my siblings and I never lost the yen for acid and base, sour and salt.

In the next post, I will give glory to the Pickle God; at the risk of heresy, I will admit that the Jews really have two gods... 

So much for monotheism.

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