Pickles are good; pickled almost anything is good, especially freshly made and marinated overnight in the refrigerator, perfect for piling up on a chalupa or nibbling with smoky barbecue or eating out of the jar while standing in front of the refrigerator.
But I live with a pickleaholic. David eats pickles like popcorn. He likes pickles alone or with anything. Be it raw oyster kimchee and hot mango pickle, jalapeño escabeche, pickled eggs, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, he loves it.
At Christmas, he and John Griffin (pickle fanatic No. 2) present each other with gift baskets loaded with pickles. They are equally as excited to paw through their gifts to see what treasures the one found that the other did not.
What could be wrong with such a harmless addiction?
Pickle storage. When one person has a mania for pickles, it can take over more space than it deserves in the communal refrigerator and cupboard shelves. My jar or two of kosher or half-sour dills, a tub of mixed, expensive olives and maybe a jar of roasted red peppers or pickled baby tomatillos stand inoffensively at one side of the top shelf. His jars and cans and tubs and plastic snack bags take up the rest of the room, then elbow their way down to the next shelf and migrate over to the shelves on the door.
The cupboards are open territory for cans of pickles from Ali Baba International Market and other prime pickle pushers. When I pull out a rolling shelf of canned goods, often a heavy jar or can of parched pickled melons or pickled baby eggplants will fall on my toe.
While not a marriage buster, this collection could be annoying in that minor but nagging way. One day, a solution presented itself. He needed his own pickle fridge. Some men build additions onto their house so that they can put in a pool table and bar or a media room. Dedicated pickle storage: why not?
I didn’t have to look far, as a cube-sized fridge that formerly resided in his office was stacked away in the garage. I could move this into the house and offload jars of salted cassia flower and giant capers from main fridge to pickle fridge.
I formulated my plan. One day, when the coast was clear I found and dragged the small (but heavy) fridge out of the garage. I planned to put it in the dining room, but doing this meant going up three steps and over three door jambs and through two rooms. Our dolly had a broken wheel, which meant the appliance had to be muscled along the journey by sheer brute force — and I knew just the brute to do it.
The fridge had been stored for some time, so I took it through the kitchen first and gave it a good scrubbing. Then it resumed its journey across another floor, over another door jamb, to the dining room. A couple of whole-bottle wine cubes that were unused made a sturdy stand when pushed together.
Then — and I don’t recommend anyone over the age of 45 do this — in one mighty swoop I hove the thing up off the floor and placed it on top of the stand.
And there it stood, a white elephant in the dining room. As out-of-place looking as a blender in the bathtub. Snuggled up next to my late mother-in-law’s antique writing desk-turned-china cabinet, it deeply lacked in aesthetic appeal. The mahogany desk looked embarrassed.
“Well, too bad,” I thought. “I’ll disguise it and be done with it.”
Pressing on with the project, and before my husband got home I went out and fetched a few jars of exotic pickles and a nice smelly cheese. I added a couple of micro-brews to place invitingly in the cube.
And then … it was time for the presentation of the fridge. Which was anticlimactic. David came home, he wandered around awhile, he looked at his mail. He changed his clothes. He refused to notice it. (How could he not?!) When I finally couldn’t wait another minute and introduced to him his very own pickle fridge he seemed dubious. But more or less accepting. That is, not exactly rolling around on the floor in throes of gratitude. But, he was sympathetic a few days later when my back gave out.
My reward is — he uses it. Going into the dining room just now, I made a list of what is in that fridge: a tub of mixed grocery store pickled vegetables and two of olives; a wedge of Spanish cheese, a can of pickled baby eggplant, another of baby melons, some Sriracha sauce, capers, an unopened can of pickled cassia flowers and a beer or two.
It’s all delicious stuff, and even more agreeable now that it has a home of its own.