Lower East Side #8 – 10th Annual NYC International Pickle Day

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment


Lower East Side Visitor Center


Are you old enough, or enough of a movie-buff, to remember the film, Crossing Delancey?  The one with Amy Irving and Peter Riegert, where book lover Isabelle Grossman (Irving) meets and falls in lust with the cool downtown author rather than her matchmaker’s choice, Sam Posner (Riegert) who happens to own a pickle shop on Essex Street, south of Delancey.  She ends up with the pickle-maker, but not until she’s suffered through a long, played-out drama (of course, there wouldn’t be a movie unless she did).

It wasn’t until I moved to the Lower East Side, and saw the Essex Street storefront of The Pickle Guys – yes, south of Delancey – that I began to understand the movie.  Not from the perspective of the 1980’s, but still …  the Lower East Side and pickles, there’s a history here.  And you can learn about that history by visiting the virtual NY Food Museum’s Pickle Wing which tells you more than you could have ever thought it possible to know about the pickle, including its detailed evolution and time line.


Alan Kaufman, Owner of the Pickle Guys


There is a fine art to authentic pickle-making, and pickling anything, if truth be told.  Like the breweries and delis, the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, the pickle shops of the Lower East Side were owned and operated by immigrants, who brought Old World techniques to the preparation of food and beverages.  While many of these traditions have been abandoned in favor of industrial methods, processed food, and large corporations, recently there’s been a food revolution of a sorts, whereby old school methods of food production are being reclaimed, revitalizing lost food trades and industries, in the process.   And pickled products are becoming big business, via small, artisinal vendors, once again.  Just look at Brooklyn Brine Co., owned and operated by three 20- and 30-somethings.  As The New York Observer put it:

Formerly the province of grandmothers, and, in New York, the Lower East Side, pickling is experiencing a youthful Renaissance. Jars of various vegetables in liquid are now ubiquitous at greenmarkets and flea markets, in kitchen stores, at butcher shops, sandwich shops and Williams Sonoma. It’s not just earnest, entrepreneurial young outfits like Brooklyn Brine but a resurgence of pickles on restaurant menus all over the city and a rash of amateur canners stuffing farmers’ market booty into Ball jars in their own cramped kitchens, consulting recipes on Epicurious.com or books like Eugenia Bone’s recent Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.


Photo: The Atlantic, "Where Pickles Change by the Season"


If, thus far you’ve missed the rebirth of the pickle, your opportunity to get in-the-know has arrived.  This coming Sunday, October 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is The Tenth Annual New York City International Pickle Day.  The festival will be held, appropriately, in the Lower East Side parking lot on Broome Street (between Essex and Ludlow), as well as on Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow).  The Pickle Guys will be there, as will Brooklyn Brine, and a few dozen other vendors.

Mark it on your  calendar.  It’s bound to be a salty, delicious, fun time.


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