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Pickles…the word that can simply mean the spicy sour chunks of interesting vegetables ruthlessly ‘suspended’ in an excess of vinegar or oil, or mean a disagreeable situation troubling someone. I’ve often had my audience for my etymological discourses (excuse my memory loss on the law of humbleness!) where I rattle about the origin of words and phrases and try to unreasonably kindle other’s passion for words and their origins (as if it mattered!) while all that my audience might have wanted to do was to see that “I am done with it!” smile from me and move on with that phonecall they put on hold in respect of my premature balding! Well certain things become a constant itch in life and this looking up for meaning of words is one such itch that you are better off not having around! Well now that you’ve read this far…let me push my luck a little further and talk about the origin of the PICKLE in the English dictionary. The oldest variant of this word dates back to the Britain of 1400s when people used PIKEL to refer to “a spicy sauce or gravy served with meat or fowl.” You are free to imagine crisp shirt Brits savoring the pikel cooked by heavy framed ‘lady’ Brits! While that’s a touch tangent a meaning to the word as compared to its current meaning…the Dutch variant has a slightly neighbouring meaning…the word was PEKEL and meant a liquid used to preserve or flavour food. From there it was then just a brush of drunken creativity by some Dutch and English men who saw the picture of pickled cucumbers to resemble a really bad state of affairs that someone was caught in and then gave the figurative syntax of “being in a pickle”.

Now if you are wondering why on earth did I write this one…and if I amDutch…I would have said “iemand in de pekel laten zitten”…meaning to let someone sit in the pickle!

The part of the world I come from, a smart city called Chennai in India, the linkage of pickles to bottles is quite strong (Gawd! I finally found the reason why I came up with the name for the blog!) in an intoxicating sense. Pickles are the poorman’s accompaniment for a bottle of domestic liquor…and like most other poorman choices the pickle-liquor combi is indeed a delicacy!

Will pickle again!



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