Mar. 4, 2010 11:37 pm
Updated: Mar. 25, 2010 2:39 am
My husband is from the old country.... really old. The Middle East. They pickle EVERTHING there. Of course, they also eat other things I would never touch except in a severe famine. But we're even on that score. My inlaws were appalled that we eat crawfish in Louisiana.
We have a group of friends now who bombard us with pickled things. Cucumbers are the least used. Right now, it's cauliflower, carrots, blazing hot peppers, garlic, more garlic, extra garlic... My husband is absolutely ecstatic over it. He looooooves his pickled whatchamacallits, and since he's a much-loved fella, he receives pickled gifts from three families at a time. One woman gave us a mushy horror of cauliflower and mushrooms embalmed in pure vinegar. I do not, under any circumstances, famine or not, recommend that combo. Gack! Even hubby had to give this one a two-thumbs-down.
About the wars... I recall the days when I was a kid and everyone we knew had a "family secret pickle recipe". They'd give you a jar, maybe even several jars, but never, ever share the recipe. Because, after all, it was a "family secret". Some of these, I suspect, were closer to military secrets. Honestly, a few of those pickles could have been used as weapons if launched by catapult to the enemy subdivisions. They were that bad. Smelly, squishy, and exploding in a vile bath of vinegar and a culinary cacophony of spices.
My mom never entered the wars, but her younger sister couldn't resist. She was single, in her early 30's with no prospects in sight, and had way too much time on her hands. So she created the family recipe for bread and butter pickles. Yummy, crunchy, sweet and spicy, with just the right ratio of sugar to vinegar to spices to veggies. These were incredible, and no one has been able to recreate that recipe to this day. For a woman who has yet to learn how to cook a decent meal, she took the blue ribbon with her pickles.
Enter the jealous neighbor, and her so-called best friend. Not to be outdone, especially at the annual church fair, Mrs. Neighbor Lady made up her own recipe for B&B pickles. Not only did they not take the blue ribbon, or the red or the white... they nearly killed the priest! (Bear in mind that this same woman made homemade eggnog with real bits of cooked egg floating in the hot brew. Shudder.)
Although these two women, now in their seventies, give different reasons for the bitter end of their friendship, I'm convinced that it was really the pickle war that caused their bitter breakup.