A National Day to Get Behind

I don't remember the first pickle I ever ate. But I do remember the first pickle I ever asked for more of.

1st Pickle Festival in NYC

They were hamburger dill chips and they accompanied the grilled cheese sandwich of my dreams.

I was probably six or seven. My dad worked in an office plaza that was catered to by a lunch counter run by a German woman named Lori. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with no crust and extra pickles every single day that I was allowed to accompany my dad to work. It started with three pickle chips nestled next to the grilled cheese. Then it was a small plastic condiment container jammed with pickles. Eventually, Lori brought me behind the counter and showed me how to cook a grilled cheese on a flat-top, and handed me a dixie cup filled with pickles. It was one of the best days of my life and just thinking about Lori's grilled cheese makes me blind with hunger.

My Dad and I, Carnegie Deli, 2007

Those definitely weren't the best pickles I would ever eat, but you can see how they left an impression on me. Today is National Pickle Day and it's gotten me thinking (more than normal) about these briney characters that have taken over my life.

Our Wedding Pickles - Photo by Marc Balgavy

A pickle is greater than the sum of its parts. A pickle is food transformed by other food. Sometimes a fermentation, sometimes a brining, that makes a cucumber or a green tomato or a spare bunch of carrots into something special that will last an extra long time. Pickles, like a lot of great other things, were born out of necessity - the need to preserve. There is a great story in one of my pickling books about a grandmother swearing that she staved off wrinkles by splashing a bit of her pickle brine on her face each morning. With any luck, I will be wrinkle-free well into old age by this method. And if not, at least I'll smell delicious.

In honor of National Pickle Day, here's a round-up of anything pickle-related to ever be chronicled here. Happy pickle day!

Pickled Ramps
Pickled Fiddleheads
Annual Pickle Day
Pickle Impatience
Basil Pickles
Pickle Pinwheels
Pickled Okra
Drink Gibsons!


  1. A very important question. Because it's usually comprised of sweet pickles (my least favorite kind of pickle), I generally feel lukewarm about it. There is one giant and very important exception: Chicago Dogs.