October 29, 2010 | 7:00am
We've been dreading this day since we first laid eyes on the anemic-looking apple with the indescribable color, swimming in a bucket of pickling juice at the Russian food market. We were never fans of bobbing for apples as kids -- especially after that bully kept pushing our heads down beyond the point of "bobbing" and into full-on submersion -- but we knew today was the day we had to go in. Thankfully, sanitation standards ruled and we were instructed to use tongs instead of our mouths to fish a specimen out of a jar.
Weeks had passed, and we had forgotten about the plastic container lurking in the back of the fridge with the ominous blob inside. That is, until the moment we actually cleaned off the shelf and found it sitting there with busted skin, protected in its ghostly plastic veil and awaiting our inspection. [Insert Psycho sound effect here.] At first, we tried to convince ourselves that it had probably gone bad from being in the fridge for more than three weeks so it could hit the circular file without being considered waste, but then we recalled that it was, indeed, pickled, therefore making it immune to spoilage over what could probably amount to months or perhaps even years.
Evil to the core?
Photo by Riki Altman
Slicing into it was a harrowing experience as our knives pierced its thin skin, then fell on a layer of spongy texture followed by a firmer consistency that ran to its core. There was no turning back. Eyes closed, we popped a slice into our mouths. And we lived to tell... The truth is, it wasn't all that bad. Though it lacked the sugary, spicy flavor of a typical spiced apple ring, along with the overabundance of red food dye, this apple tasted like a precursor. It wasn't too vinegary, it wasn't too appley, it wasn't too soft, and it wasn't too hard. It was... well, it was OK.
But because it wasn't particularly craveable either, we pondered its raison d'etre. We guessed it would make sense for Russians to pickle things like apples so they can get all the nutrients from such things even in the dead of winter, when fresh fruits probably aren't readily available. So, if you were to ask us who should eat these pickled apples, we'll just have to say Siberians living at home during the cold months or anyone with scurvy who doesn't like to visit the farmer's markets often.
And, hey, if you want to make sure you don't get many trick-or-treaters this Halloween, throw one of these in a few jack-o'-lantern pails. Once those kiddies get word of the weirdo giving out soggy apples, you won't get a knock on the door past 7 p.m.