Best pickle comes from a barrel |

Best pickle comes from a barrel

Matt Zalaznick
Photos.comOne's opinions on how pickles should be packaged may be influenced by where you were born.

My younger sister was married a couple of Sundays ago to a fine young man from Wichita, Kansas. An evolutionary biologist, no less. What’s the matter with Kansas? Or what’s the matter with Kansans? Well, they freak out families from the East Coast – especially Miami families of New York City extraction like mine. I should warn you now, there may be some stereotypes below.When we first met this young man, we weren’t sure what to do with him. Unlike the people in our chatty Jewish family, he kept quiet. He didn’t have to be involved in every single conversation. He didn’t have to express his opinion on every single subject. My parents were concerned. Luckily, I’ve met several Kansans since I moved to Vail five years ago. Before that, having lived on both coasts, Europe and in the Caribbean, I was sure Kansas was just a figment of some simple-minded Atlas maker’s fancy for some simple, square states . Places like South Dakota and Iowa were what Tom Stoppard called “a conspiracy of cartographers.” But lo and behold, I met Kansans and other weird oddities, like Nebraskans and even people from Oklahoma. I was able to explain to my parents that No. 1, these places actually exist, and No. 2, the people who come from them are not like us. Many Midwesterners still put some stock in saying “Good morning” to their co-workers when they arrive at the office. And whether they’re in an office meeting or at the dinner table, Midwesterners don’t even interrupt each other!And most Midwesterners I’ve met don’t try to show off how smart they are every chance they get. It’s not that people on the East Coast talk about more intelligent subjects. We just talk about everything – cancer, civil rights, where to go on vacation, steak marinade – like it’s the most critical issue facing the human race. Take pickles, for instance. An elderly cousin of my father from upstate New York has strong opinions on pickles. “Where do you get your pickles?” he asked me at a recent family Passover Seder outside New York City. I probably said, “The supermarket.””Do they sell pickles out of the barrel there?” he asked. “No,” I said, never having seen pickles in an actual pickle barrel. “What?” He was stunned. “You have to get your pickles out of a barrel. Go down to Fleischmann’s on 2nd Avenue. How can you eat pickles from a jar? Those aren’t pickles.””Fleischmann’s? For pickles?” said Uncle Bernie, storming in with his two cents. “Are you out of your mind? Shmuels’ Deli is the only place to get an edible pickle. They’re sour but not too sour …”‘”Shmuel’s are a bunch of crooks,” said grandpa Julius. “Shmuel’s is a rip-off. They don’t know from pickles. They probably put mayonnaise on their pastrami sandwiches.” Then there’s lots of hand-waving and head shaking and walking off. Next thing you know, they’ll berate me for not getting Cheetos from a good old, oak-paneled chip vat. The Midwestern version of this conversation would be somewhat different.”We bought some lovely pickles from the Safeway,” says polite Midwestern grandmother. “The ones in the lovely round jar.” Midwestern aunt waits a few moments so she doesn’t interrupt. “Well, they also have nice pickles at the Piggly Wiggly, and they’re a bit cheaper, I think,” she says, just trying to be helpful.”That’s true. Both Safeway and Piggly Wiggly have wonderful pickles. The small buttery ones are good for sandwiches,” says cousin Katherine. “They go nicely with ham, turkey and mayonnaise.”How nice. And then everybody smiles. Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or Check out his blog at, Colorado

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