If you’re like me, you’re not complaining that a delicious dill pickle comes automatically with your deli sandwich.
If you’re like my husband, you slide it quickly off your plate and lament all of the places where the vinegar-y juice touched the rest of your food.
No matter how you feel about pickles, you probably don’t know why, exactly, they’ve found their way onto deli plates everywhere – but you’re about to find out.
Pickles themselves have be around (and adored by many) since as far back as 2400 B.C.E. They gained popularity in the States after the first Jewish immigrants found their way to New York from eastern Europe, and as those immigrants opened delis, they offered the pickle as a palate cleanser.
The acidity of the pickle is meant to let you experience the sharp contrast in meat flavors more fully.
As more and more Jewish delis adopted the practice, the pickle’s popularity soared in New York City. By the 1930s, pickle vendors were popping up all over the Lower East Side, inciting “Pickle Wars” among competing vendors.
Once it had taken NYC by storm, the pickle made its way across the States, until now, it’s more common to see a pickle on you deli plate than not. Most delis don’t even list it as a side; people just assume it will be included.
And if it’s not there?
Well, I guess some people will be upset, and others will breathe a sigh of relief. To each his own.
This is still America, after all.