Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today's Strange Food Trend: Peanut Butter and Pickles?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:08 PM

At least, that's what the New York Times's is saying in this story from Dwight Garner.

From the Times:

The PB&P has been a minority enthusiasm in America for generations, lingering just under the radar. The sandwiches appeared on lunch-counter menus during the Great Depression and in extension-service cookbooks in the 1930s and ’40s in recipes that generally called for a few spoonfuls of pickle relish. A lot of people’s grandmothers used to eat them.

These days, they’re a cult item. Kinsey Millhone, the fictional private investigator in Sue Grafton’s alphabet series of mysteries, is probably America’s best-known devotee.

Below that, there’s a consistent but low-level Internet buzz about the combination, just as there is about the other unlikely things people like to marry with peanut butter and place between bread slices: mayonnaise, olives, thick onion slices (this was Hemingway’s favorite sandwich), horseradish, bacon, Marmite (in England) and Vegemite (in Australia), to name but a few.

(Cue look of terrified disgust)

In my quest for the perfect peanut butter and pickle sandwich, I’ve made these things with expensive hipster pickles, homely farmers’ market ones and my wife’s artful homemade beauties. They’re all pretty good.

But my go-to ingredients, month in and month out, are Claussen pickles, the ones in the refrigerator section — they’re crunchy and have a bright flavor — and Smucker’s Natural peanut butter, which isn’t sweet. (I’m agnostic about crunchy versus smooth.) I use whatever good bread is in the house. If I’m feeling decadent, I’ll toast the bread first and spread some unsalted butter on each slice before adding the PB&P. That’s genius, and the prelude to a tasty nap.


“In the United States, we’re used to peanut butter with really sweet pairings,” [Lee Zalben, of New York City's Peanut Butter & Co.] said. “But in other cultures, combining savory with sour is more of a tradition. Look at Chinese, Indian and Thai food, for example, in curries and satays and moles. I’d put peanut butter and pickle roughly in that tradition.”

Maybe I'm a bit too squeamish, or a bit too not-pregnant, but the idea of peanut butter and pickles terrifies and disgusts me more than a sandwich that is nothing but mayonnaise and cheese. Is anyone out there a devotee of these monstrosities?

For the full article, check here.

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