A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 80: Pickle Day: A Moment in Brine

September 15th · 6 Comments

Yesterday the foodies converged on the Lower East Side for International Pickle Day. What, you missed it?

I went by the merest coincidence and found that thousands of people had beat me to it, strolling Orchard Street in the sun and stabbing at the sample trays with toothpicks. A jazzy trio played. Sales of pickle-themed T-shirts were brisk.

It was like flipping the channels and coming across a random sport, like speedboating or Korean bullfighting, with thousands of rabid, cheering fans on the sidelines, and wondering how it is you missed all the buildup. I thought of the pickle, if I thought of it at all, as a pleasant garnish for a sandwich, and here New York has turned it into a holiday. I will arrive far earlier for next month’s Parsley Festival.

Pickle Day picked a peck of pickled, well, everything. I tried new pickles, which are mild and taste like the original cucumber. There was a Korean tent with the aggressive smell of kimchi, beets that tasted like candy, Indian mango chutney, plates of sausages with sauerkraut, and couples walking along with pickles on a stick.

Most shocking to me were the pickled grapes, which began sweet enough and then lashed the palate with a sour endnote. I downed a cup of pickling juice cut with tomato juice. It snapped my head back like a shot of Cuervo.

When discussing pickles, we can’t ignore the other kind of pickle, the kind New Yorkers get themselves into all the time. It’s also known as a jam. Shakespeare made the earliest known reference to it, in The Tempest. Alonso asked Trinculo, “How camest thou in this pickle?”

I asked Pickle Day people the same question, sort of. What was the most recent pickle they’d found themselves in?

Two pickle vendors told of the trouble they’d had finding a parking space that morning. Another had just run out of toothpicks. One woman lost her dog in midtown Manhattan. And one bisexual woman brought her boyfriend and her girlfriend to dinner…at the same time! Whoa!

Now that will leave a sour aftertaste.

Tags: Dining · Entertainment · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sulley // Sep 15, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    What did the bisexual declare at the pickle festival?

  • 2 Susan // Sep 16, 2008 at 12:57 am

    You are a brave man, Dave. I can’t imagine anything I would like less than a pickle festival – well, maybe having my fingernails pulled out. Maybe.

  • 3 Bev // Sep 21, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Wow, yes, the haircut looks great!

  • 4 Bev // Sep 21, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Oh, and I cannot pass this entry without asking the obvious…is that a pickle in your pocket…well, you know the rest. 😉

  • 5 Marilyn // Sep 24, 2008 at 12:10 am

    This is why your choice to become a writer is a good choice!

  • 6 Android // Jul 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I can’t wait to read your new blogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Will you continue with your blogs in your new town. It will be such a let down for me if you don’t

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