It was a warm and humid afternoon, and all I wanted was an iced coffee. Being from the Northwest, I’m used to drive-through coffee shops in even the most podunk of towns, but now I was in the heart of the Louisiana Bayou, and there wasn’t any type of coffee shop to be found. Instead there was “The Chill Out,” a small white building facing the road, with a multi-colored flag sporting an ice cream cone hanging from the window and a flashing red light on the porch.
A house turned into a frozen-treat mecca, The Chill Out had a wall facing the road with a long list of “snowball flavors,” ranging from Tiger Blood (I’m not quite sure exactly what that entails!) to watermelon. A snowball is the classic treat of this region, shaved ice doused in sugary flavoring. I assumed this meant sweet, fruity flavors, so my eyes did a double take when I read “dill pickle” on the list. I imagined what dill-pickle sorbet would taste like and cringed. Had I missed something? When had salty brine become an additive to summer iced treats?
But two weeks later, I’m finding that consuming salty, briny, distinctively flavored items out of their normal context isn’t as odd as I thought. In fact, it’s downright popular. Take Kraut Juice for example, found by the foodies over at The Kitchn, which is apparently prevalent in the Midwest. What does one do with kraut juice besides scrunch up your nose and move on? Make some tomato tang and enjoy.
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, how about Pickle Juice Sport? That’s right, you can refuel your electrolytes and prevent cramping after a serious workout with this salty drink.
Not ready for bottled juices? You might want to start easy with something like pickle pops, another delicacy that I had never heard of until the dill pickled snowball fiasco. “We used to freeze pickle juice in ice-cube trays all the time when I was little… it’s sooo good!” exclaimed one friend, a Mississippi native. I have yet to try it, but according to the blogosphere, those pickle pops are all the rage.
Dill pickle juice
Fill ice-cube tray with pickle juice, and add in a popsicle stick or toothpick to each cube. Freeze and enjoy.
And you thought kombucha was weird…
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.