By: Shira Feder
The Pickles a Jewish food staple.
The pickle! That fermented flavor, that solidly sour mouthfeel, that palate-cleansing post hotdog taste. The bright green, with its violent crunch! How we Jews love our pickles! But how did this love affair begin?
Immediately I think of a time when Jewish pickle vendors hawked their wares on the streets of the Lower East Side. Only true history buffs will remember the pickle wars, where vendors competed for a monopoly on the pickle. These bold Jewish immigrants made the pickle synonymous with Jewish food, but to find out who loved the pickle first, we have to go back further than that. (This pickle history timeline reveals that pickles have been around for literally hundreds of years, buy we’re aren’t going back quite that far.)
It’s an Ashkenormative love story that begins in Eastern Europe. The Jewish ghettos were unsanitary. The winters were long. Fresh food was scarce. Eating well was expensive. There was only one solution.
It all started with pickling, that most Eastern European of habits. To get through the long and grueling winter months, food had to be pickled. Everything could be pickled, from lemons to carrots, with varying degrees of culinary success.