Tuesday, April 26, 2011
(V) Vinegar In Our Veins
I'm not sure the reason for it, but my family has always had a fondness for vinegar. Any type of food that we could season with pickling brine was fair game, and apparently there was always an ample supply of it in the cupboard.
My roots are of Croatian and American Indian, and while researching Croatian recipes, I did find Pickled Pineapple and Vinegar Pie, both which make my mouth water at the mere thought of it. There was also Balsamic Chicken, Sour Cabbage Rolls, and Warm New Potato Salad, which includes vinegar.
Perhaps like the Italians love garlic, we Croatians love the tartness of vinegar.
Or maybe we're just weird.
One of our favorite treats as youngsters was bologna in vinegar. Mom always bought the thick sliced Blue Bell brand and we would cut it into bite sized squares, drizzle it with vinegar and salt, and have our fill. Even today, I occasionally find pickled bologna in the grocery store and find it just as tasty as our homemade version.
Our neighbor had a gooseberry bush and even those little green fruits weren't safe from our vinegar jar. Although they are supposed to be picked when soft, red and sweet- we plucked them while they were crunchy and sour- only to add an extra wallop of sharpness with vinegar and salt.
We experimented a bit with apple cider vinegar, pouring it on sliced oranges and apples, dipping carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers in it, and simply eating vinegar soaked cabbage with our fingers. And when we were finished, we sometimes drank the leftover vinegar- sipped it like fine wine.
There was a time when I would not even taste a green bean without vinegar on it, and I was appalled and angry that school lunches did not include pickled green beans. My fourth grade teacher made me clean my plate one time and I gagged on every green bean. If only there would have been a shot of vinegar handy! I could have enjoyed recess that day with all the other kids...
As I've matured, my taste in food has also. I rarely crave pickles, seldom buy bologna, and love green beans today without the help of Heinz.
But there are still times when I'll slice an apple, dab it with vinegar and salt and enjoy that sour treat. And of course, cucumbers are not the same without a little rice vinegar added.
Just thinking about vinegar has me wanting to explore and try some more civilized recipes from my Croatian background.
Warm New Potato Salad?
Sounds perfectly vinegary!
Posted by Rae Frazier