A Word From The Pickle Snob

I have met plenty of self-proclaimed wine snobs. I never question them. I have encountered handfuls of beer snobs, and I never try to call them on it. I have even met cheese snobs, charcuterie snobs and even general food snobs. Regardless of my feelings, I rarely if ever feel that I am snobby enough about any given food/beverage discipline to warrant spending the energy required to take a person's snobhood down a notch. But the table is wiped clean and everything is different if we're talking about pickles. Because for some odd reason, without my knowledge, choice or control I have become the world's strangest snob. The pickle snob.

I have no clue as to why. A lot of people really like pickles and a lot of people really dislike pickles. Some people even love pickles and some people even hate pickles. But I am the strangest creature of all. I am not a person who likes pickles and I am not a person who dislikes pickles. I am not a person who loves pickles or hates pickles. For any pickle that I eat, I either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. And the loving does not happen very often. Maybe once or twice a year if I'm lucky. Every other pickle, well, stinks. And when I do find these magical pickles, they are the finest, hand-pickled, full-lovin', four-month aged, sour dill pickles out there. I get a wink from the pickle vendor as I poo-poo all of their other pickles until I land upon their treasure trove. They know. They know I know. Only the snob knows.

I wouldn't even touch a pickle until I was 15 or 16. Maybe I didn't like them yet. Maybe I just hadn’t ever sniffed one worthy enough to try yet. But in the meantime, perhaps I was able to avoid engraining the taste of the disgustingly sweet or hideously vinegary varieties, which come in most jars or are served in most delis, as pickles that were normal and tasty. I will not eat kosher dill pickles (way too vinegary); I will not eat kosher new pickles (too bland); will not eat sweet gherkins or bread and butter pickles (disgusting and too sweet). I don't even like spicy pickles of any variety. I feel vinegar in pickles (like way too many kosher dills) ruins the pickle. It makes it taste too syrupy, too briny and too much like a cheap, jarred pickle (like a Vlasic). A true sour, garlicky, old, dill pickle has 0% vinegar in it. None. The cure is just salt and water, along with the garlic, dill and spices. Simple enough and absolutely perfect if done well. The consistency is perfect – not slimy or even too moist. The outside is almost leathery, really locking in the flavors. And the taste is unbeatable. Sour yet subtle – a simple, deep flavor. Nothing overpowering like many pickles but not bland like most others. Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Eastern Market in Washington DC and Julia's Mom’s own are the only three times I have had the perfect pickle. Every other time I see a pickle, I take a little bite just in case, but usually just ditch it.

So now that I've officially declared my pickle snobness, feel free to question it and go ahead and try to revoke my pickle snobhood. No thanks? I thought not.

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