Pickles and People

Doris - Richfield, Minnesota
Entered on January 23, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: change

You just can’t judge pickles — or people — by the way they look.

In 2000, I submitted my authentic home-made kosher dill pickles to the Minnesota State Fair for judging in its Creative Arts competition. Going to the State Fair is equivalent to a pilgrimage to Mecca for most Minnesotans, and we take these competitions seriously.

When I failed to see my jar displayed in the display case, I went back to the judging area to investigate. I learned that my pickles had been disqualified as “spoiled” even though the jar had not been opened and the pickles hadn’t been tasted. The judge explained to me that they “just looked bad” because they didn’t look like the others submitted.

I explained that mine were traditional kosher dill pickles made without vinegar and that’s why they looked different, but they were wholesome and tasty nevertheless. To the judge’s horror, I opened the jar, extracted a pickle, ate it, and survived. When she tasted one herself, she exclaimed, “This is delicious! I’ve never tasted a pickle like this before.”

My guess is that this nice little woman from small-town Minnesota had never tasted such a pickle because she’d also never met a Jew before. Her experience with diversity was very limited.

Whether it be a pickle in a jar or a woman wearing a sari, we must all remember not to condemn something or someone on appearances alone. There is a lot of joy in the journey to a new experience.