As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, I am reminded of pickles, and the lowly place they hold in American society. I mean, at best, to the typical American, a pickle is a condiment, used extremely sparingly as a flavoring agent for more serious food like hot dogs or hamburgers. Or potato salad. It’s not that these foods are not good, they are. But they have become a shadow of what they used to be in the wealthy and food rich western world. Basically, there was a time in our not so long ago past, when pickles meant life. Pickling was the key way to preserve vegetables and their essential vitamins, which would preserve diseases like scurvy and other maladies.
As much as the West likes to look down at their collective noses at Afghanistan as being “primitive” they aren’t that far behind. And they have some of the same issues that the West had just a couple generations ago; how to preserve food value over a long, cold winter, or during long journeys, and for the answer to that, they must look to the lowly pickle. Pickles are not usually featured at stores, but they kind of hang out in the corners, if you know what to look for.
And Afghan society has been so disrupted over the last 40 years of conflict (conflict that is unprecedented in Afghanistan’s history, contrary to popular mythology) that some sections of Afghan society have lost the art of pickling. In response to this loss of essential survival knowledge (entire generations were exterminated under the Soviets and then the Mujahadin and Taliban) the US government recently contracted for pickling instructors to go to Afghanistan and teach it. Unfortunately, the pickling “experts” had grossly over-represented their knowledge base, and their pickling techniques were wrong and potentially dangerous. As a response to this, my good friend, Rachel made this video, teaching proper technique, using already available materials to accomplish a simplified and effective method for how to safely preserve vegetables. I hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to “like” her video.