Nagano, Japan April 2006
I can't believe it's that time of year again - time for the NYC International Pickle Day Festival in the Lower East Side, formerly home to many pickle producers. This is the 10th year for the festival that makes it clear that pickles go way beyond the cucumber.
Traditionally fermented foods have many health benefits deriving from their ability to promote health gut flora - that's the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. The sour flavor in Chinese medicine stimulates the Liver/Gallbladder system. If we look at this from a western perspective we know that the liver and gallbladder help in the digestive process through the production and secretion of bile. The Liver/Gallbladder in Chinese medicine is also often associated with mood problems like depression and anger. Here again we can see a connection in western thought with the term, melancholy, derived from a Greek word for bile, and even the English word, bilious. So from many perspectives anything which keeps the digestive process in high functioning order is a good thing.
Kimchee, olives, sauerkraut, miso, natto, yogurt and yes, pickled cucumbers can be considered health foods! Go for the traditionally processed products high in naturally occurring enzymes and "good bacteria" (The nationally distributed store shelved pasturized products are very different things.).
Hmmm, the sour flavor stimulates the Liver, preventing stagnation. I wonder if everyone in congress should be eating kimchee every day...