Lightning in a bottle
Millennia before the invention of gunpowder, pickled goods have ignited explosions of taste around the globe.
At its simplest, pickling involves immersing food in a medium designed to preserve it, whether that medium is brine, vinegar, or something else entirely. Which sounds entirely logical and practical. But luckily for us, one of the great miracles of human invention is that pickling foods does not simply preserve them — it transforms them into something so much more than the sum of its parts.
Originally invented over 4,000 years ago by the Mesopotamians, pickles have a place of honour in almost every cuisine on the planet. And the alchemy of their flavours has long caused people to attribute special powers to them — Cleopatra herself believed pickles were the secret to her beauty, while Roman emperors fed them to their troops, believing pickles made them stronger.
It would be easier for us to list foods that have not been pickled. Fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, nuts and grains, are all pickled. From kimchi to sauerkraut, ceviche to the kosher dill, pickled foods are essential elements of almost every single nation's palate.
We live in a whole new world today. One where the need to preserve foods through pickling is less of a necessity. Now, pickling is being used to explore brand new territories of taste.
Blazing the trail for us is Guy Rawlings, Toronto restaurant veteran and owner of Montgomery's. His experience with house-made vinegars, preserves, and fermented foods makes him the perfect candidate to curate our pickled goods category.
So, let's take a journey through his collection. But get ready.
Because these ain't your grandmother's pickles.