My pickle card March 2010
I saw it happening and I began to worry. I had just become a card carrying member of a frequent pickle purchasers club. For every 10 jars purchased I would get a free one. I tried rationalize this behavior -"the smoked okra pickles are really exceptional" I told myself. Still I was a bit concerned until I realized that it was March heading into Spring and then it all made sense. Spring in Chinese medicine is the season associated with the Wood element and the Wood element is connected with the sour flavor.
Chinese food therapy adds another layer to the concept of eating with the seasons. Each season is associated with an element and each element is associated to a number of things including taste. The tastes are designed to balance the energies associated with the season and support the anatomical organs associated with each element.
The Wood element is said to have an upward movement analogous to the shoots of plants emerging from the soil. The sour flavor tempers this expansion. The Liver and Gallbladder are the organs associated with Wood so by extension sour affects these organs. The sour encourages the gallbladder to excrete bile which has an alkalizing effect on the body. This alkaline state is cooling, anti-inflammatory in nature, balancing the heat and acidity created by all the activity of spring. Sour is the flavor to have when there's just too much going on and you have to keep it all together. This perhaps explains pickle cravings during pregnancy. A little pickle may be just what the Liver ordered with all those hormonal gymnastics going on and the acidity will help make dietary calcium more available, also a good thing. Like all good things, though you can have too much. Too much sour can dry the eyes and skin so people with eczema and dry eyes should keep moderation in mind.
So it's Spring. Do not be afraid then to embrace the sour, in a restrained kind of way :) and if you're near Union Square try the Smokra (smoked okra pickles). They bring sour to a very wonderful new level.*
Smokra's NYC 2010
* There is no financial or any other kind of connection between me and Rick's Picks NYC Pickles - not even a free sample. I get suckered in when I pass their table in Union Square on the way to my office.