Just posted on “Men and their pickles”, which brings me to (actual) pickles and (figurative, sexual) pickles.  It’s well in advance of National Pickle Day (November 14th), but here’s a pile of (cucumber) pickles to tide you over:


Let me get this out of the way first: there are not only pickle holidays, but penis holidays as well — for instance, a Penis Festival in Japan on March 1st, and National Penis Day in New Zealand on September 4th. On the latter:

To celebrate, men (and a few supportive women) gather in Auckland’s Cathedral Square, get naked, and stand or sit in the formation of a giant penis, all to be a part of an art photograph. National Penis Day is aimed at raising awareness to men’s genital health, and according to some online research, also seems to include an HIV/AIDS fundraising element. According to at least one source, the city council grants permission for the event as long as it remains “discreet and sensitive.” Lest anyone be offended, signs were erected (their word, not mine) in the square warning other pedestrians as to what they may see. (link)

The event is good-natured, earnest, and public-spirited (and not at all carnal), so I hope I can get away with posting a photo on WordPress:


But now, to the foodstuff. From Wikipedia:

A pickled cucumber (commonly known as a pickle in the United States and Canada or generically as gherkins in the United Kingdom) is a cucumber that has been pickled in a brine, vinegar, or other solution and left to ferment for a period of time, by either immersing the cucumbers in an acidic solution or through souring by lacto-fermentation.

… The term pickle is derived from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine. In the U.S. and Canada, the word pickle alone almost always refers to a pickled cucumber (other types of pickles will be described as “pickled onion,” “pickled beets,” etc.). In the UK pickle generally refers to ploughman’s pickle, such as Branston pickle [a sweet pickle relish], traditionally served with a ploughman’s lunch.

There are pickled fish (pickled herring, for instance; pickled herring in sour cream is a great favorite of mine) and meats (pickled pork and beef) and eggs (pickled redbeet eggs were a staple of my Pennsylvania Dutch childhood), and lots of pickled vegetables besides cucumbers: beets, green beans, carrots, okra, onions. And other picklings: sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, Japanese tsukemono (each of which deserve their own postings).

Then to cucumbers and (cucumber) pickles as phallic symbols.  Where to start? (There’s just so much material.) There’s the synthetic compound pickle kisser ‘queer man’. And any number of plays with the rhyme pickle and tickle — for instance:



2 Responses to “pickles”

  1. Victor Steinbok Says:

    Two minor points–1) the Wiki article contains a number of minor discrepancies (e.g., not separating the brined pickles that are fermented and the acid-cooked ones that are not); 2) it is now common to refer to small fresh “pickling cucumbers” as “pickles” as well. Furthermore, as a generic term, it covers broader categories. It is quite common to find geographic identifiers on labels and menus–e.g., Chinese pickle[s], Armenian pickle[s], Lebanese pickle[s], etc. Furthermore, under this usage, “pickle” covers a much broader category of fermented products, e.g., “Japanese pickles” includes not just tsukemono, but other types of fermented vegetables, with the fermenting vehicle being sake lees, miso or other. Each category has a distinct name in Japanese (sometimes more than one to distinguish between the traditional version and the modern quick-pickle), but all are usually identified by the generic “pickle” or “pickles” (unless the user is careful enough to use the actual Japanese name). Russian, on the other hand, has no distinct word for “pickle” as a category. There are at least three types of fermented pickles (“mochenye”, “solenye”, “kvashenye”–all plural adectives here, nominally meaning literally water-logged, salted and self-fermented or soured, compare “kvas” for Russian small-beer) that correspond more to different proportions of ingredients (and corresponding procedural methods) than to different fermentation agents. But there is a distinct adjective for acid-pickle as well (“marinovannye”–also plural here) that has a number of related words for the entire process and product (vinegar or other acidic conservant pickle solution is “marinad”, which, of course, is the same word for “marinade”). The cultural differences in nomenclature of such things are quite fascinating–compare that with the variety of words in different languages, including English, for various fruit and vegetable preserves (e.g., jams, jellies, conserves, preserves, etc.) or for varieties of dried or smoked meat of fish (corresponding to different preparations, not species of the dead animal).

  2. Fap! | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

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