– Andrew Iskander
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”
– Thomas Jefferson
One morning in 2011, I received an email from a stranger named Robert. He wrote to say that he’d come across an old column of mine where I was lauding my love of Kroger Sour Pickles.
In the same column, I also lamented the loss of said pickles from my life because Kroger had stopped carrying them.
I’m not sure why. In the Corinth/Tupelo area, my father and I alone kept the shelves stripped of the sours.
Robert, a kindred spirit in the world of sour pickles, wrote to tell me he believed he had found a sour to rival the extinct Kroger Sours. He told me a grocery store chain called Demoulas Market Basket had good sours, though they call them sour dills.
Of course, I immediately went searching online to see if I could order some pickles.
There are 66 stores in the grocery chain, according to Google. Trouble is they are all located in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
I’ve lost Robert’s initial email, but he, too, hails from one of those states, if memory serves me correctly.
Anyway, I quickly learned I could not order directly from Market Basket. And I was sad. Very sad.
I thanked my new long-distant cucumber comrade for the information anyway.
Later, I received another email from Robert telling me that “the pickles start their trip today.” This prince of a man had shipped me sour pickles. Ah, the kindness of strangers.
When the package arrived, I was not only overwhelmed by the gift, but also by the amazing packaging skills of my new friend.
Inside were two jars of the Market Basket Sour Dills and an even greater surprise. As I unwrapped another bubble-wrapped jar, I saw a note from Robert: “This may well be the only jar of Kroger Sours left on the planet. Use it for a taste test.”
I fought the urge to hide my gift from my pickle-loving dad, sister and niece during the holidays, but it was Christmas, after all.
And when my dad asked, “Can I have one of your pickles?” how could I say no?
So, I shared and, just like the loaves and fishes, the pickles lasted. Until last Thursday.
All that’s left is the Kroger jar, unopened, a memorial to what once was.
Thank you, dear Robert, for your sweet gift of sours. I am now hooked.
I may have to travel to New Hampshire or Massachusetts to replenish my supply.
A road trip. A quest for cucumbers.