Meridian Star

Columns

January 16, 2013

Pass the pickles

MERIDIAN —    Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make a huge difference.

    When our second restaurant, Crescent City Grill, opened, we added a roast beef po-boy to the menu. I patterned it after the roast beef po-boys I had eaten all of my life in New Orleans. Actually, that’s not 100% accurate. I patterned it after the way I had been eating New Orleans roast beef po-boys all of my life.

    The typical New Orleans roast beef po-boy will be made with sliced roast beef (and hopefully some of the little bits of roast-beef “debris” that remain in the bottom of the cooking pan), gravy made from the drippings of the roast beef, shredded lettuce or shredded cabbage, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard, possibly some type of mild, white cheese, all between a split piece of French bread.

    I have been eating that sandwich for 50 years. Though as a child I left off the lettuce/cabbage, pickles, and cheese. In my early twenties I added the cheese and lettuce. At 26, I opened the restaurant and served our roast beef po-boy the way I was eating them at the time.

    About seven years ago, my son and I were having lunch in the Crescent City Grill. He ordered a roast beef po-boy but asked if he could add pickles. His favorite sandwich is turkey with mayo, mustard, and pickles, and since we don’t always have turkey, he opted for a roast beef po-boy in the same manner. “That’s the way they eat them in New Orleans,” I said.

    We kept a small amount of pickles in the kitchen for our hamburgers, so we honored his request. When I took a bite of his po-boy I was amazed at how much better it tasted than our usual preparation without pickles. I instantly regretted what I had been missing all of those years. I talked to the managers and asked, “Why don’t we use pickles on our po-boys?”

    “We don’t know,” they replied. “We assumed that you didn’t like pickles on po-boys.”

    “I was wrong.”

    In New Orleans they put pickles on almost all of their po-boys— roast beef, shrimp, oyster, and even turkey. Why? Because pickles are a key component to po-boys. We started using pickles on all of our po-boys. It has made a huge difference.

    The key is to use a basic, thinly sliced dill pickle. Nothing thick, nothing fancy, nothing with ridges, just a few plain dill pickle slices. It adds just the right amount of sour and acid to the flavor profile of the sandwich. What I had been eating was a dull one-dimensional sandwich. The pickles gave it depth and complexity.

    However, fancy pickles do have a place in the larder. I am about to let you in on a not-too-well-kept secret. I hesitate to do so, because when I inform you of this product, and you try it once, there is a risk that store shelves will be empty and I will not be able to remain “stocked up” on “my” pickles.

    Nevertheless, here it goes: The best pickle on the planet— bar none— is a Wickle. There, I said it. Take that information and do with it what you will. Though I warn you: Once you eat a Wickle, you’ll never go back to bland, lifeless, major-brand pickles, ever. Seriously, ever.

    Wickles are purely southern and made in Alabama. But I had to go to the redwood forest to discover them. I was in California last year and was in charge of cooking dinner for about 30 men, mostly Californians. Two of them gave me a ride to the grocery store to purchase supplies. As we were winding through the aisles, one of the men asked, “Have you ever had a Wickle?”

    “A what?”

    “A Wickle,” he said. “It’s the best pickle you will ever eat.” His wife, a native of New Orleans now transplanted to Southern California, buys them all of the time. We bought a couple of jars and brought them to the dinner. They lasted about five minutes. It was truly the most interesting pickle I had ever eaten. Almost everyone who ate a Wickle said the same thing.

    The name, I assume, comes from a blending of the words “wicked” and “pickle,” though a more appropriate moniker would be awesickle. It is one awesome pickle.

    A Wickle is, at the same time, sour, sweet, and spicy. They are also cool and crisp— everything I want in a pickle. I guess they’re good for sandwiches and burgers, but I like eating them on their own.

    So what have we learned today?

    1.)  Despite what they may eat on a daily basis, Californians love southern food.

    2.)  First graders aren’t too young to place on the food development team.

    3.)  Trust that New Orleanians know how to make a po-boy. Just eat it they way they prepare it.

1
Text Only
Columns
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

Do you think people should be allowed to carry firearms into government buildings?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide