Friday, January 21, 2011

Pickle Juice

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.

9 comments:

toastytoasty said...

You obviously haven't told BE about your nightrain days.

Ayak said...

I've found it difficult to find tonic in shops here. I'm sure şt was everywhere a few years ago?

Did you know that şalgam is also supposed to be good for a hangover? A case of kill or cure maybe?

Stranger said...

Tonic was everywhere a few weeks ago here. Then it slowly started to disappear. I expect it's a glitch in the supply, if anything...

Toasty, I remember trying to explain Night Train and Mad Dog to BE. But since those were mostly from my high school days, I wasn't even sure what they are (aside from köpek öldüren...)

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Do you know, I have been living here for about 30 yrs and I have never ever been remotely interested in trying pickle juice!!and you had it with gin!!! the mind boggles!! Ooooh. And that şalgam is most definitely an acquired taste which finally I have!! I drink gin and diyet cola so no need for tonic .... try it!

Claudia from Fenerbahçe

Bill said...

Isn't the bad doctor played by Hans Conreid, who also played the evil doctor in "Lost in Space?" And that kid in the hole--he was the go-to for nearly every kid character in the fifties and early sixties.

siobhan said...

I bet you smell lovely after the pickled garlic :)

Stranger said...

@ Seasonal Cook, if you can do şalgam, you could probably do pickle juice. I think it's actually watered down pickling brine used to store already made pickles. It's not the same as taking a swig from the pickle jar...

@ Papa, hooray for Hans Conried! He had a very interesting Wikipedia entry, including the thrilling tidbit that he was the voice for Snidely Whiplash. So that's two things you've learned today (the other is that pickle juice and gin isn't good). The kid has a Wikipedia entry too, mostly because he's famous for being the kid in Lassie, which I didn't know. He was, as you say, the kid in everything else too. Then he couldn't find work and he got busted for growing pot. Then he became a software designer and died young. Oh, and Mr. Zabladowski and the mom were married in real life-- she wouldn't perform without him, which may explain her truncated career.

@ Siobhan, I wouldn't have noticed the pickle juice smell, covered up as it was by the pickled garlic smell! Yum.

Stranger said...

Oops, read that wrong. I'm sure pickled garlic is very fragrant the day after. I wouldn't notice though, since it was my own stink...

paul said...

Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall had a recipe for a Salgam, tomato juice, celery and vodka cocktail on a Christmas programme a few weeks ago on Channel 4 back here in UKania. It looked quite yummy, although I was watching it with a screaming hangover...