Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well, That's a Pickle ...

Often, when I'm sitting at the office, eating my boring delicious homemade sandwich, I long for something - something sweet, yet sour, cold, and satisfyingly crunchy.  I long for a pickle.  Specifically, a Claussen kosher dill spear.  Even if the sandwiches in the UK aren't as satisfying as the ones in the US (see my post a month earlier on "real sandwiches"), they could easily remedy this by serving them with a big, kosher pickle.  But what the British refer to as "pickle" (see right) is significantly different than what we Americans call pickles, as I learned the hard way in Subway one day. 

"Anything else on your sandwich?" asked the guy behind the counter.  "Um ... yeah, can I have a couple slices of pickle please?" I asked.  He gave me a strange look.  "We don't have pickle here."  I peered in the glass cabinet of condiments and sandwich fillings in front of me.  There, between the lettuce and tomato, was a vat full of sliced pickles.  "Um, what's that then there?" I asked, pointing, somewhat huffily.  "That," he said, disdainfully (as much disdain a "sandwich artist" at Subway could muster), "is a gherkin."  "Oh, well excuuuuuuse-me," I said, just as disdainfully.  "I'll have a couple of slices of gheeeerkin then."  He rolled his eyes at me as he packaged my foot-long sub. 

Pickle, in England, as I only later discovered, is actually more akin to what we Americans would call relish, but not quite as tangy.  And more brown.  Sound disgusting?  It's not.  It's actually quite delicious, especially when slathered on a thick piece of white freshly baked bread and eaten with mature cheddar cheese and some lettuce, or what the English call, a Ploughman's lunch (and although the Ploughman's wasn't developed until the 60s, I like to pretend I'm a MEDIEVAL - sorry for the capitals, someone kindly pointed out my previous mistake of using the word 'Elizabethan' - monk eating bread and cheese on the cold hard floor of an abbey).

 Branston is the company that makes this pickle (you can get other variations, some cheaper, others more expensive) and it's an iconic brand, distinctively British.  I prefer the small chunk pickle, which you can't find everywhere, but it's perfect for my sandwiches. 
While I enjoy this British delight, there are days when I still yearn for a crunchy kosher dill pickle.  If you know where I can get a jar in the UK, please let me know.


  1. "Elizabethan monk" *cough* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_the_Monasteries *cough* :P

  2. Pickle or no pickle, I am jealous of your life abroad!


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