The Importance of Pickles

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Pickle – n. Bitter, semi-crunchy, mysteriously preserved, zombie-like remnant of a once innocent and delicious cucumber. Awful, unnatural, and quite possibly blasphemous.

Mondays are my days off and every week I look forward to having lunch at the little ‘mom and pop’ sandwich shop here in town, Live Oak Subs. These folks know how to unleash the true power of Sandwich (that’s right, capital ‘S’). Every sub is made with love. The meat is sliced thin and laid on with care, positioned just so. The tomatoes are always ripe and placed perfectly centered just where they belong. Red Onions are properly sliced and arranged and never substituted with onions of lesser pedigree. All these and more lay between two pieces of soft homemade wheat bread that is never too thick nor the crust ever too hard and it’s all wrapped up with care so that when I sit at my table and unfold the wax paper, I’m greeted with a perfectly neat, unmangled, kaleidoscopic vision of colorful, sandwichy goodness. Oh, be still my rumbling tummy.

But what’s this? Wrapped up alongside this bit of lunchtime glory is a long spear of a sickly-green dill pickle and it’s bleeding its drippings all over my sandwich. I wrinkle up my nose at first and pick it up carefully between two fingers like a dangerous bit of biohazard but since I’m trying to eat healthier lately I decide it can’t be that bad and what the heck. Crunch. I eat it. And it is just as awful as I thought it would be. Thank goodness it’s gone. I giddily catch up my sandwich and find that an amazing thing has happened. The pickle has bittered my mouth and left all my tastebuds parched and agonzing for something sweet. When I bite into the sandwich its glory flows into the depths of my being in ways I never imagined possible. Praise the sandwich. I sit there eating and the people in the booths next to me eye me with with suspicion as I moan in pleasure and possibly even cry a little for joy.

When the last morsel of sub was gone I sat and considered the fact that it was the pickle that made the difference. Oh, the sandwich would have been good without it, but I certainly would not have appreciated it as much. But it was even more than that, the pickle actually prepared the way for the goodness to come. The pickle exposed the full glory of the sandwich I had previously taken for granted. It left my mouth soured and puckered and ready to welcome the nature of the feast that would follow.

I always eat my pickles now and I don’t complain. Thank God for pickles.

Profile photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


10 Comments

  1. Jim A

    LOL!!!!! GREAT post Pete. There’s a song in there somewhere if I could juuust put my finger on it (so elusive). “It was then that i realized that, I don’t want a pickle…. I just wanna ride on my motor cickle…. and I don’t wanna die, I just wanna ride on my motorcy….. cle…”.

    Beautiful.

    Jim A

  2. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    pickles are my reason for living. i’ve been known to eat meals entirely comprised of pickles. i love them, in all of their various forms: little baby kosher pickles with the little specks of garlic, hot fried pickle chips with a creamy, cool herbed mayonnaise dip, bread and butter pickles, fresh cucumber pickles with sweet onion, apple cider vinegar and salt, gherkins (which i’ve pronounced “jerkins” since i began using the word), pickled pickles, pickle upside-down cake, pickle stew, and my favorite, pickleshakes.

    how dare you darken and shade the bright, glorious aura of the almighty pickle. i bite my thumb in your general direction.

    (but i see your point with the sandwich and everything.)

  3. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    “i bite my thumb in your general direction.”

    Run out of pickles?

    Please tell me you don’t eat those gas-station-style pickled pigs’ feet. Just what is that creepy red juice they are soaking in anyway?

  4. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    Oh of course, pickled pigs’ feet, how could I leave that one out? And that red juice is vinegar and blood — any foodie worth his salt knows that. I forgot to mention pickles and swiss on sourdough toast, pickled okra (extra spicy) pickled jalapenos (I pop them like candy because I have a brave tongue), and the best-ever after school snack, Heinz Genuine Dills with Lays Original potato chips. Salt and sour never had a love affair as deep and abiding as this one. But I must warn you, you should count on your fingers being the diameter of…well, pickles…by the following morning.

    I’m trying really hard right now to come up with a beautiful, spiritual pickle analogy to warrant all of this pickletalk here in God’s Holy Rabbit Room. Ummmmm…..it’s just not coming.

  5. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    If I may…

    We all start out as crispy, delicious cucumbers but eventually decide that we have to have things our own way and go jump in the pickle barrel and get all corrupted and picklish, drowning ourselves in vinegar (and blood if you’re a pig’s foot).

    Luckily, there was this one really tasty cuke a long way back that swam around in the barrel a bit but never went pickly. The saladiers didn’t like him much though. They chopped him up and served him with some tomatoes and a garnish but by the time the platter made it’s way to the table he’d up and vanished.

    He showed up a while later without a scratch and told all the pickles that one great day the head chef is going to pay a visit, fire all the treacherous impostor chefs (cheves?) and turn us all white and crispy again so he can serve us up on a great big salad topped with fine cheeses and some grilled chicken.

    (Don’t ask me who’s doing the eating, I’m scared to think about it.)

  6. Witmer

    I love pickles, and still I must say, this is brilliant. Well played, sir.

    Also: I think you’ll find that a pint of good bitter will provide a similar service.

  7. April Pickle

    It took me a while to get used to my married name. I remember shaking hands with folks and introducing myself right after the wedding. I would laugh every time. I couldn’t believe I had become April Pickle. It’s such a goofy name.
    But I don’t laugh anymore. It feels so normal to tell people how to spell it “like a green dill pickle,” or to jokingly tell that “I’m sweet, he’s sour,” or to tell them how to find our house, “the one with the green roof, ya know, like a pickle.”
    But Pete Peterson, this post makes me (dare I say) enjoy my name! I love the idea of preparing the way for the goodness to come. I want my awful, unnatural, and possibly blasphemous self to expose the glory. You’ve made my day, and you did it years before I had ever heard of the Rabbit Room. Hurrah for old posts!

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