Before I came to Turkey, the only time I'd ever heard of pickle juice was in a movie called "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T."
It was right after this scene that the bad guy, Dr. Terwilliger, offers the good guy, Mr. Zabladowski the plumber, a class of vintage pickle juice. I always figured pickle juice was some wacky made-up thing invented to amuse small kids who think things like insect sandwiches or artichoke cake are highly sophisticated humor.
Turns out pickle juice is real, and real people drink it. For real.
I've long gotten my head around şalgam, which is salty turnip juice. As long as you're expecting şalgam and not fruit juice when you drink it, it's not bad. Not anything I'd pour a big cold glass of on a hot day, or something I'd slug straight from the bottle, but it's not that horrible. Real men drink şalgam with rakı. I used to go around ordering rakı and şalgam just to flummox waiters, who would often check with my (male) friends before giving it to me. I told BE about this the other day and he got mad because he gets mad at every reference to my enjoying myself in my past life before I knew him.
Okay, so that's şalgam. Pickle juice is just pickling brine. In a cup. To drink. Like şalgam, you can have it spicy or not. There's a pickle shop near our house that I've become obsessed with because they always have interesting olives, fresh eggs, hot peppers with cheese inside, and pickled green garlic which is the yummiest pickled thing ever, after my mom's pickled onions. Whenever we go there, BE has himself a nice glass of şalgam.
On our most recent trip, however, we told the pickle man we'd been robbed and he offered us pickle juice to cool our sorrows. How could I say no to someone who's just trying to be nice, and who doesn't know about "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T?" Plus, since the robbery I'm still engaging in some crazy thinking and pickle juice just seemed like a good idea at the time. The pickle juice in the pickle shop is stored in those juice fountain machine dispensers where the liquid is constantly cycled across the top and down the sides of the container. I chose spicy.
And honestly, it wasn't too bad. Like şalgam though, it wouldn't be my first choice. I'd take it over Fruko but not over sour cherry juice.
We had our garlic packed with the spicy pickle juice. Then we toddled off to find tonic water. Then we discovered maybe why the thief drank our tonic water-- there's none to be found in any shop in downtown Sarıyer. It still doesn't explain why the tonic water was all over the floor though.
So that night, I had a stroke of brilliance and mixed gin with spicy pickle juice. I thought maybe I'd hit on some thrilling fusion drink that would take the world by storm and someone else would take credit for it before I got any money.
It was okay. Interesting. Piquant. A bit like drinking tree sap, actually. The first few sips were fine though.
And then it wasn't good anymore, not at all.
Maybe it would have been better with vodka.