Monday, December 28, 2009

A Positive, Broadly Defined

Pickled cucumbers are called pickles. Pickled tomatoes are called...pickled tomatoes. Pickled eggs are called pickled eggs. In fact every other pickled food, from pickled pigs feet to pickled turkey gizzards all fall into the "pickled -object-" nomenclature.

We must assume from this that cucumbers were the very first object ever to be pickled. Why else would their pickled counterpart deserve the singular title, "pickle"? Clearly mankind cut its pickling teeth on cucumbers, and then moved on to trickier foods like asparagus, beets, cabbage, chicken feet and probably in certain Asian countries, dogs and cats.

Which all begs the question. If dogs had been the first "edible" to be pickled, would we call those delicate pickled morsels "pickles"? I think we would. Pickles would in turn be horrifying food items never found on American grocery store shelves, and companies like Vlasic and Claussen (Kraft Foods) would be famous for manufacturing pickled cucumbers, not pickles.

The lesson here, and I think we can all agree on this, is that it's an extremely positive thing that pickles are not brined, preserved puppy dogs.

*It turns out that, strictly defined, "pickle" refers to any brined, spiced, preserved food item. So if you pickle something, strictly speaking, it's a pickle. A pickled doberman is just as much a pickle as an egg or a cucumber. Whether the cucumber was the first food to be pickled isn't so much at issue. But it is the most popular pickled food and has, as a result, become the only one favored in common parlance with the designation, "pickle."

I've never eaten a pickled pup, but I have had pickled eggs, pigs feet and tomatoes, and I'm quite clear on why cucumbers dominate the pickled products market. The eggs especially are #$%@ awful!

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Thailand I had dog jerky once, but never pickled dog. I think that is taking it just a little too far :)