I love pickles. I love eating pickles, making pickles, pickle juice, books about pickling and even the occasional pickle-related novelty t-shirt. I have serious thoughts on the best pickles, I have never turned down a pickle-back (although, in my day, we just called it drinking pickle juice) and take serious, serious glee in stories about people's grandmothers keeping themselves young by using pickle brine as a skin tonic.
Which is why, when I read Ben Robinson's Thrillist article, Why I Hate A Food You Probably Love: Pickles, I mostly just felt sadness. Deep, deep sadness of the variety that can only exist when you know someone is really, truly missing out on something great. Ben, I'm really sorry man, and also I have a few questions.
In your article, you talk about having tried and tried to conquer your distaste for pickles -- which I have to say, I really truly appreciate. Also, having a friend who doesn't like Slurpees sounds harrowing, and I'm so glad you made it through. My concern is that you may have been trying to get over hating pickles with some of the worst pickles ever.
McDonald's pickles? Dude, McDonald's pickles are like a baby that's so ugly, only its mother can love it. People who love pickles will eat fast food pickles because they're pickles. But are they good? No way. Bread and butter pickles? Even we can't really get behind those, and will pretty much only eat them as a last resort. And SANDWICH STACKERS? Man. You have got some depressing pickle options in your life. Those ersatz green, floppy slices of tennis ball are not the gateway drug to pickle nirvana.
The gateway to pickle nirvana might lie in a real, fermented pickle. Maybe it's a cucumber, maybe it's kimchi. Maybe you'll prefer ultra sour, skinny Mediterranean pickles over the American version. Maybe pickled mushrooms will be what wins you over, the Hungarian kind with warm spices and onions mixed up with them. Maybe tiny cornichons on a cured meat platter. I love all these things as the perfect counter-point to whatever notes of richness I face in the rest of the meal. They kind of brighten things up, and I've always maintained, served to make me a little hungrier for another bite of other things. Pickles are like food's wingman.
You live in New York, right? Did you know that you live amongst some of the greatest pickles in America? If you ever want to give it another go, like your friend with the Slurpees, go visit the The Pickle Guys. They pickle everything, from cucumbers to carrots to baby corn to green tomatoes. In fact, have you ever eaten a pickled green tomato? It's probably one of the crunchiest things on earth, and maybe one of the best pickles ever. If you can get through an intense sampling there, and still hate pickles? Then I'm afraid it's not pickles you hate, my friend -- it's probably vinegar.
I don't know how to cure an aversion to vinegar, but I'll drink a Slurpee with you and try to figure it out.