I am proud to say that on more than one occasion in my career as a journalist I have sent a pickle through interoffice mail. Why? My God, isn’t it obvious? When you work in an office with fewer than 100 people, it’s absurd to drop something in a manila envelope and have it take up to two days to get there when you can walk over and hand it to somebody in 30 seconds. That said, you can’t just walk up and hand a person a pickle. It requires too much explanation. Much better to use the interoffice mail system. It amplifies the comic—not to mention cosmic—impact immeasurably. The pickle I sent to a colleague as a joke was passed along to most of the rest of the editing staff before someone finally asked, “Who keeps sending this pickle?” I confessed—and never heard the end of it. Friends of mine still bring it up.
I am a big fan of pickles. I love their snap, their crunch, their briny tang. I also love that the pickle qua pickle is inherently funny. I’m not sure why; it may have to do with the word itself, which is pretty malleable. You can get caught in a pickle, be put in a pickle, declare something a pickle, become pickled, and of course eat one.
In this issue we celebrate the sandwich in all its forms and variations. It’s a mouthwatering package, full of heroic photographs of double-deckers, dagwoods, and banh mis. But buried in the mix is a short but wonderful essay by Kevin “Doc” Wolfe, our Fine Diving columnist, in which he considers the pickle. Seriously. Haven’t you ever wondered why every time you order a sandwich a pickle comes with it? Kevin has. And he’s done a little snooping. Turns out the pickle played an oddly important role in the discovery of America, and much later, a less odd but still important role in the shaping of the American mind. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. But no less than Amerigo Vespucci, the man our country is named after, swore by them. And 500 years later, the pickle is as common and subtly patriotic as Mom and apple pie. If there is one thing you take away from “Stacked,” our effusive rundown of some of the tastiest damn sandwiches being engineered in Cincinnati (not to mention excellent chips, sides, onion rings, and breads), it should be this: Every pickle you eat makes America a better place. Originally published in the May 2013 issue.Photograph by Ryan Kurtz
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