FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer in a pickle!
I’m from India and like most Indians, I love pickles. I always thought of pickles as unique to people from the subcontinent, not having seen them or an equivalent in any other cuisine. Thus I was very pleasantly surprised when Angela asked me if I liked pickles. Angela works at the local library and we had bonded over books.
Sometimes she’d stop by on her way to work and we’d walk up together.
Angela was very interested in all things Indian and asked me detailed questions about our clothes, the bindi, the sindoor I put in the parting in my hair, customs – which obviously included a session on arranged marriages! – and yes, food. She wanted to know if we got enough protein as vegetarians, if I had ever tried meat, etc. Then, one day, the question about pickles.
“I love them!” I exclaimed. “I have some at every meal.”
I told her I made my own, showing off a little. Angela was fascinated when I went on tell her I pickled mangoes, lemons, chillies, even carrots and cauliflower.
She said she loved pickle, too. I asked if she’d like to try some of mine and she said she’d love to. So the next time we met, I handed her a little jar of my homemade mango pickle.
She looked at the red, oily masala in the jar a little doubtfully.
“Pickle!” I said. “Try some!”
I had even had the foresight to bring a spoon and a napkin for her to wipe her hands as she was going straight to the library after. She opened the jar very carefully, almost like it would explode in her hands. But I wasn’t seeing the signals, I was waiting for her reaction to my culinary skills.
Very, very tentatively, she took a tiny bit on the tip of the spoon and touched it with her tongue. You’ve seen those comic characters that go “Whoosh!” with smoke coming out of their ears?
Angela looked like just that. She choked. She clutched her throat. She batted her hands frantically in front of her mouth.
Her face was beet-red and her eyes bulged.
I honestly thought she was having a seizure.
What’s wrong, I asked, scared out of my wits.
“It’s the pickle!” she managed to gasp, as she dug into her satchel for water. “I’ve never had anything so hot in my life!”
She took several large gulps, while I stood there apologizing profusely.
“I’m so sorry, I thought you said you liked hot pickles – this is one of the hottest I make!” She took out a jar of her own the next time we met. “Here, try this. This is what I call pickle!”
And that was my introduction to the ubiquitous dill pickles!
– Uma Trivedi
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Posted: Jun 2, 2014