Job 10/52 and I headed to Rick’s Picks to learn about the wonderful world of pickling.
Throughout my time cooking in New York, one aspect of American cuisine really caught my eye – pickles. New York houses many a pickle connoisseur, and while working in several of the city’s kitchens I had many customers enquiring about the nuances of the pickles served. Of Ukrainian heritage, I grew up in a household where a jar of gherkins (and a bottle of vodka for that matter) was never far away. Yet, excluding the odd Nazaruk party, pickles only ever seemed to cross my path on two occasions. 1) Those devilish looking jars of pickled onions and eggs at the fish and chip shop. 2) The customary conversation about gherkins while eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger. In a society still possessing class anxieties, perhaps the UK has chosen to ignore our pickling heritage to show we no longer have the need to preserve fresh produce? Whichever the case, ask a Brit what a pickle is and they will most likely tell you about the brown stuff they put on their Ploughman’s. So when the opportunity arose to learn more about pickling it seemed like an offer too good to refuse.
Rick Field founded Rick’s Pick’s, after quitting his job to follow his passion for pickling. Growing up, pickling had always been a family activity extending the flavours of spring and summer into the rest of the year. Over time, Rick perfected his recipes from childhood to a create a range of picks with everything from the ‘Classic Sours’ dill pickle to ‘Mean Beans’ – a spicy green bean & cayenne combo (which make a pretty damn good Bloody Mary too!) As pickle king, Rick even has the perfect recipe to preserve Justin Bieber’s hair.
My week at Rick’s started with an introduction to pickling with Kevin, followed by an impromptu tasting session at the warehouse. They had set me a challenge. By the end of the week I would be expected to sell their pickles at a farmers’ market, so I had limited time to learn my stuff.
The week progressed with running some deliveries around New York. Despite selling produce worldwide, they still find the time to hand deliver the goods to the local businesses that helped them start out. In the hot and humid New York heat Kevin and I cruised around Brooklyn stopping on occasion for an iced coffee and the chance to explore some of the businesses they supply.
Sitting at my desk job only 4 months ago, I often wondered about the level of exposure I’d get to the communities I was working in. On this occasion I was not disappointed as Kevin did his utmost best to show me life as a New Yorker. Beyond the day shift, Kevin even guided me to a local haunt where he proceeded to feed me rather large whisky chasers. By the end of the night it wasn’t just vegetables that were well and truly pickled.
Stumbling back to Chinatown that evening I was filled with Dutch courage about my upcoming challenge to man the Rick’s Pick’s stall at the Union Square market. Before that though I would have the opportunity to pickle with the great man himself – Rick. Stay tuned to see how I got on…
Are you a pickle person? Share with me your pickle experiences below.
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