Yesterday, my very own sister, Sydney, attempted to publicly shame me for an incident that occurred over a decade ago in the Burbank Costco parking lot. I was young, hungry, and had not been properly satiated by the various samples, so I ripped open a block of just-purchased Colby jack, took a big bite out it, and popped a strawberry in my mouth. To Sydney, this was both outrageous and uncouth, and she brings it up every chance she gets.
you take a bite from a big block of cheese in a costco parking lot one time and the haters never let you forget it https://t.co/xHqnVj4S9a
— Claire Lower (@clairelizzie) April 19, 2022
I have since learned that the rat from Ratatouille not only enjoys this exact flavour pairing, but that it is a key scene in the movie (I have not seen the movie). This confirms what I already knew: I have an instinctual, natural aptitude for flavour pairings, but it comes from a feral, chaotic place.
This is probably why this pickle snack, which I saw on a beautifully curated Instagram account (eatsmallfood), appealed to me on a visceral level. The combination of super sour pickles, crème fraîche, and honey is the trifle from Friends, and I am its Joey. Pickles? Good. Cultured dairy? Good. Honey? Goooood. (Unlike the trifle from Friends, I would serve this snack to people.)
According to eatsmallfood, the combination is based on a “popular Finish snack of gherkins, cream, and honey.” A little Googling revealed there’s also a Russian version with lacto-fermented cucumber pickles and smetana (Russian sour cream that is similar to crème fraîche). Both versions seemed like they would match my chaotic energy and satisfy my craving for seemingly dissonant pairings. And I was correct.
For my pickle snack, I went with the Trader Joe’s brand cornichons — a very aggressive pickle — with some crème fraîche and honey that came in a bear. I dolloped the dairy onto a plate, made a little crater with a spoon, and drizzled the honey into that crater. I blotted excess brine off the pickles, then swirled them through the honey and crème fraîche, making sure to get plenty of each onto the tiny preserved cuke.
Like most good, simple snacks (like buttered hard-boiled eggs, or honey roasted peanuts with candy corn), this pairing was better than it had any right to be. Honey and pickles might seem like they’re in conflict, but there is a whole genre of sweet cucumber (and zucchini) pickles, and they are good. This snack covers almost all of the flavour bases — sweet, salty, sour, and fatty play across your palate — and no one taste or texture lingering for too long. Sweet tempers salty, fat dulls the sting of the acid. It just works.
For my next pickle snack, I’m going to try and get some smetana and lactic acid pickles, just to compare and contrast. I might even switch out the pickle itself and try a pickled green tomato, cucamelon, or cauliflower. I have a dedicated pickle fridge after all, full of pickles that are just waiting to be dipped in honey and cultured cream.