This past weekend, in honor of our editorial assistant Jeanne Hodesh’s birthday (it’s today: Happy Birthday, Jeanne!) we helped host what can only be called a preservation party — we supplied the cured and smoked sausage and salmon roe and creme fraiche and buckwheat blini and smoked mackerel and trout — and we asked attendees to bring the pickled produce. (And we would have loved some of that pickled Long Island herring made by our publisher’s mother, as a matter of fact.)
The result was a table pile with jars of pickled beets and pink eggs and tubs of real fermented juniper-berried sauerkraut, pickled green beans and pickled okra and of course, plenty of pickled cukes, green, yellow and white. The spread reminded us that despite the fact that “putting by” is yes, a hipster trend, and canning is a career path a lost soul with an English degree might now consider, pickles are truly one of life’s great edible pleasures. The wash of brine and smack of whole spices, the crispity crunchity textures, not to mention the perfect yang they bring to the ying of fatty foods liked smoked meats and fishies or a gooey grilled cheese sandwich or pile of pulled pork. (Or maybe they bring the ying?) At any rate, it reminded us that the almost-lost arts of pickling, canning and fermentation became popular again first and foremost because those foods taste really damn good. And that we happen to be hosting a free class with some impressive local canners on this very subject on Wednesday night. See you there?