The pickle problem

18 Feb

I love pickles — dill, sweet, spears, chips — all of them. Recently I’ve been having a pickle craving (watching too much “Jersey Shore,” perhaps), so I put “pickles” on my shopping list and went on mysupermarket.co.uk to check pickle prices at Sainsbury’s. What came up was 19 varieties of this:


That is not a pickled cucumber, I have no idea what that stuff is. So I headed to the store to find whatever-the-English-call-pickled-cucumbers myself. Americans love pickles, but apparently they are not as popular in the UK (like tortilla chips?). I found a small shelf of pickles, all called “gherkins.” Which, of course, made me crave my favorite type of pickle, sweet gherkins. So I bought a giant bottle of these, gherkins in sweet vinegar.


Because that’s what sweet gherkins are, right?

Apparently not. I just ate one. Ever put something in your mouth expecting one taste and you’re hit with another? That’s what happened. I was expecting that sweet turmeric, cinnamony taste, and instead I got a bread-and-butter pickle. Which on my list of favorite pickles, is more towards the bottom. So it seems sweet gherkins are one of those things I’m going to have to look forward to eating only in the states, like Lucky Charms and Taco Bell. (Or I could pay £7.44 and buy them from Amazon.co.uk. Amazon, is there anything you don’t sell?)

Just for kicks, I went to this site to see if the English call all pickles “gherkins.” My suspicion was confirmed:

Gherkin – A gherkin is a pickle to you. Not as popular in England as they are in the US.”

I also looked up “pickle,” that mysterious brown condiment that came up in my search. Here is what it said:

Pickle – No such thing in America. Visit any English home and say “bring out the Branston” – they will bring you a jar of brown, lumpy, spicy pickle. It is made from vegetables, spices & vinegar and is quite thick. It is eaten with cold meats, cheeses and pies. There is even a less lumpy version for sarnies! Branston is the name of the market leader in pickle. Don’t visit England without trying it.”

Maybe I should pick some up next time … or not.

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