Food Republic's Global Tour De Pickle

Happy International Pickles Week, everyone! While it may not have anything on Food Republic's Macaroni Salad Week, I'm loving on the idea that everyone has barbecue sides on the mind. It is Grilling Month, after all. While we're at it, it's also Celiac Awareness Month for anyone humoring their trendsetting friends/family members/significant others/Miley Cyrus. And, what luck, pickles are gluten-free. Did the International Association of Dumbass Food Holidays plan the two events to coincide? They must have, it's just too convenient.

Pickles, back to my point, are an international phenomenon. Every food culture has them, and isn't afraid to use them. Even the word "pickle" means something different to everyone. In the United States and Canada, pickles refer to cucumbers. In England, a pickle is either a pickled onion or the short way of referring to a sweet and sour relish known as Branson's pickle. In India, pickle is a condiment made from mustard oil-cured fruits or vegetables left in the sun. And the tour goes on.

  • This, from the ever-baffling Wikipedia: "Koolickles" are a Southern treat consisting of pickles with Kool-Aid added to the brine. This is why jars are and should be hard to open. For everyone. Not just kids.
  • Japanese tsukemono is a dish of lightly brined cucumbers and onions (though other vegetables like daikon and carrots are sometimes used), served with absolutely everything that involves rice. So, everything.
  • Vietnamese pickled shallots are sweet, crunchy and super-addictive out of the jar. I discovered these while working as an intern at Saveur, where we were paid in odd things from the freebies table in the mail room. This discovery and a set of giant oversized novelty wine glasses made it totally worth it.
  • Pickled turnips colored bright magenta with beet juice are a common sight in the Middle East.
  • Hey look, the Brits peeled hard-boiled eggs and stuck them in jars of vinegar. Gross.
  • Moroccan pickled lemons season everything from couscous to tagines. Yes, I just named the two most Moroccan things besides pickled lemons that came to mind. These may be the easiest pickles to make ever: score tops of lemons, cram tightly into a jar with salt, and leave be.
  • Kimchi. Enough said.

Important thing to know: Amerigo Vespucci, New World explorer who loaned his moniker to the good 'ol U-S of A, was originally a pickle seller in his native Seville, Spain. Yes folks, we come from pickles and dreams really can come true. Here are five additional very important things to know about pickling. You only have three days left. Find a pickle-friendly lunch and have at it.

More on pickles at Food Republic: