Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gherkin or Pickle?

On Thursday, I took the girls in my office out to lunch to celebrate one of their birthdays. We had lunch at a nice Italian restaurant and for a starter, we had an order of fried courgettes (aka zucchini as it is known in the US). As we were eating the appetizer, I made a comment that in America, there is a restaurant serving fried pickle chips which sound terrible, but are really delicious.
"Pickles" they both said? I responded - "yes, dill pickle chips"
More quizzical looks.
So, I proceeded to explain the pickle slices or chips in greater detail so they knew what I was talking about..."Ah, you mean gherkins" one said. Right. "Gherkins, yes" I said, "But not the little cocktail type gherkin - more along the lines of a big gherkin that has been sliced. Think of a cucumber slice but a bit smaller."
One said they would call those sliced gherkins here in England. Not pickles. I don't think they thought I believed them, so they summoned our waitress over to our table to ask her if she would ask for pickles or gherkins on her burger at McDonald's. The waitress responded with "gherkin." 

I had a glimmer of hope after this lunch thinking that maybe I have not been able to find dill pickle slices over here because I was maybe looking for the wrong item on the store shelves. (I enjoy pickles a fair amount so I have even gone so far as to bring back glass jars of dill pickles in my suitcase from the US - a potentially dangerous situation should the glass jar crack inside my suitcase.....)

So, the next day I went to my local Sainsbury's in hopes of finding dill gherkins (or dill pickles as I know them!) and here is what I found:
Our local Sainsbury's has a PICKLE aisle. Why on earth have they labeled it with a pickle heading if in fact they are called gherkins here?
One jar of sweet cucumber dill there. 
Crinkle cut gherkins. Again, why is it the pickle aisle if these are called gherkins? I need to revisit this product - there might be hope in finding a good dill pickle slice here although the description of "select herbs and spices" is not too promising.
Cocktail Gherkins. We have these in the US - closest item I've tasted to a dill pickle over here but not conducive to slicing for pickles on a sandwich. I would call these baby gherkins in the US - put them out on a party platter for people to eat. I would not consider putting them on my sandwich in their baby size....
Pickled Onions. Not quite pickles but I think the aisle might be known for the pickling items.....instead of actual pickles.
Gherkin relish? No pickle relish I guess I will be waiting until we return to the US to eat more dill pickles.


Iota said...

Ah, the pickle aisle isn't the gherkin aisle. That use of the word 'pickle' means 'chutney'. I think the US equivalent would be 'relish'.

And do you know the phrase "to be in a pickle" or "to get in a pickle"? That's a useful use of the word too.

Iota said...

So what you call 'pickle relish', we might call 'gherkin pickle'.

Completely confused now?

The most famous pickle is Branston's.

Iota said...

Actually, I have a question for you. Is there a difference between a pickle and a dill pickle? Or are all pickles dill pickles?

Almost American said...

Pickle to me means the way something has been prepared - hence the aisle says 'pickles' because you can have pickled cucumbers, onions, beetroot . . . or indeed pickle as in Branston pickle, or chutney.

If those 'gherkins' in a jar look similar to what you would expect to find in the US, then try them - don't worry about the label that says 'gherkin'. Even if they're not exactly the same, you may find you like them! And gherkin relish may actually be what in the US is called pickle relish! (I wouldn't know, I've never bought it in the UK.)

Kris said...

I love a good crunchy dill pickle, but the gerkins here are actually really nice. I like the little baby ones. They are sweet and tart, but not a bad trade off from dill.