October 1, 2017

Blog the Forty-first: Pickling Cherry Peppers

... or Italian Eggplant "Sott'olio"

It’s pickling time, the perfect time to offer you my meterological theory of Western civilization. Western thought began in the Mediterranean where more often than not the blue sky smiles on you with a golden sun and the rich earth vouchsafes its bounty. If you’re an Aristotle or an Aquinas, you naturally begin reasoning about nature on the premise that she is a loving mother, beautiful, good, and benevolent in her purposes, and you resolve accordingly to seek your wisdom from her. But when human inquiry into nature migrates north, it meets cloud, wind, and hail, ground yielding tubers only if watered by much sweat, and life short, nasty, and brutish; so if you’re a Bacon or a Hobbes, you premise that nature is a cruel stepmother, as stinting of her secrets as of her treasures, and you resolve for your survival to put your mother to the rack until she tells you what you want to know.

That’s why they pickle cucumbers and cabbage up there. It’s a question of surviving the winter. But down in the sunkist land of my people, you pickle because it makes things delicious. It’s a matter of art. Taste their pickled cucumber and our pickled eggplant, or their pickled beets next to our pickled cherry peppers, and you will taste the difference between preservation of life and appetite for it.