19 Jan 2017

Pickle ponderings. The history of the pickle may surprise you

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When munching on something a little bizarre, do you ever find yourself wondering how the hell it came about that this food was conceived? Who on Earth first pried razor sharp shells off a rock, smashed them open to reveal something that resembled living, breathing snot, proceeded to consume this salty snot and concluded that the oyster was a culinary delight?

Today I found myself pondering the pickle. How did this much-loved fast food accompaniment (or midnight straight out of the jar, possibly dipped in ice cream snack) come to be? Being a stickler for very useful information I set out to research the not-so-humble pickle and I must say I’m very impressed with the history of our crunchy tangy friends.

You know you’ve made it as a food when none other than Jesus himself mentions you in the bible. Twice! The pickle has been around since approx. 2030 BC (we must remember to have a massive pickle party in 2030). It is believed the ancient Mesopotamians pickled by way of preserving foods for trade purposes. Cucumbers are Indian natives and past pickle processes began in the Tigris Valley.

Pickle publicists did a pertinent promotion because perplexingly, pickle popularity perpetuated. No porky pies, pickles feature in Shakespearean plays.  George Washington had a collection of 476 different types of pickle.

Aristotle and Julius Caesar were pickle peddlers who praised the cured cucumbers for their healing properties.

Among that line-up of celebrity pickle fans is also Cleopatra, who thanked the pickle for the part it played in preserving her good looks.

Peter piper even picked a peck of pickled peppers…whatever that means.

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Today the peculiar pickle pandemic continues.Since 1948 the US has celebrated International Pickle week annually over ten days every May. Over half of all the cucumbers in the USA wind up pickled. Americans consume a mere 26 billion pickles every year.Well, paint me green and call me a cucumber; that’s a lot of pickles!

Thankfully, all this pickle gluttony is a positive. Not to be patronised, pickles are packed with nutrition. Naturally fat free, pickled vegetables feature good bacteria that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines. They are high in vitamin C, assist you to absorb iron and can even help you with weight loss (this obviously depends on what you’re eating them with).

So next time you’re treating yourself to a hotdog, pack on the pickles and reflect upon the long and colourful history of our lovable and surprisingly interesting little green mates.