Of course the other way of keeping things from going off is by pickling. Not to say that this, along with refrigerating are the only two ways to preserve food, just that these are the two I am willing to discuss before having to re-categorise this blog as 'One man's exploration into the world of not throwing up as a result of buying meat and then not eating it for about a week.' (This clearly is a working title, and maybe a snappier heading is required to capture today's youth. Or maybe just a snappier topic).
Pickling, as the name suggests, has little or nothing to do with pickles. They were merely the first thing that got pickled and therefore coined the phrase. This does seem like a little backwards, as if Lord Wellington's classic invention would instead be called the 'Foot', the vacuum cleaner called the 'Dusty Floor', or the sandwich called the 'I'm quite hungry, but I'd rather just have a snack. No not crisps and I can't eat chocolate, I'll have just have to make do with pickled pickles'. As you can tell, my penchant for snappy titles is what has got me so far in life.
But I fear that I'm rambling off topic. Not to say that this isn't the point of this little exercise, but merely its nice to have a theme to the whole piece.
Pickled items are stored by leaving them in something so acidic that nothing except humans would be stupid enough to try and eat it. Its rather like being worried that your housemates are going to eat your juicy steak, but they are more susceptible to arsenic than you are, so you put just enough arsenic on the steak so that only you would survive. The end result of this is about the same as with pickling. Nothing else would dare touch it, but the food is so bad now that it almost seems not to be worth it (unless you really didn't like your housemates).
Pickling was invented by Lord Pic, whose noted inventions also include the pic axe, the piccolo and Al Picino (I figured you wouldn't believe me after the first one, so why bother being realistic?). After trying keep his pickles safe from prying mouths by suspending them from the roof of his kitchen, they unfortunately slipped from their moorings and dropped into an unlabeled jam jar. The shockwave of which caused the lid to seal tight on them and it fell in a dark, cool cupboard. Later it was found and eaten by a rather ravenous Lord Pic, who had hanged his entire catering staff for pickle theft (a most heinous crime), and since almost starved to death.
I'd like to think that the process of pickling had such an exciting birth. Certainly, the next time someone asks you if you know how pickling came about, you will probably remember the above anecdote, though not the real history. This is because history is dull. Very, very dull. Despite all the hundreds of murders, wars and country renamings, we fail to remember any of them. So perhaps an alternative is required.
Remember the quote "If we do not remember history we are doomed to repeat it" ? I remember it because its what our secondary school teacher told us to try and make us pay attention. An amusing thought, that if we didn't learn about the war of the roses we may accidentally incite civil war in the playground after some pompous so-and-so declares that they are chosen by God to rule over the playground. However, after hearing about what actually happened, some spotty book worm decided to go out in the playground and shout the same claim. He was promptly proved wrong by several larger boys.
Well my theory is this. Why bother learning what actually happened and instead just remember the moral? Instead of long winded passages about how economic stresses caused German extremist movements to gain an advantage in early 20th century Germany, instead tell the story of the Peanut and the Pickle.
The peanut had everything, including a comfy shell, but alas the poor pickle did not. The pickle realised that he wanted a nice shell, and that its tan hue would contrast well with its ghostly white apparel. So the pickle bought a tarmac flattening vehicle and with the help of some well placed string, drove over the peanut and, whilst laughing manically, crushed the poor peanut. After climbing down, the pickle saw that it had crushed the peanut and its lovely shell. The pickle realised that its overuse of pressure had broken not only his enemy, but any chance of getting what it wanted. The pickle cut itself so that it would cry. Sobbing loudly, the pickle reached for a nearby party-popper and blew its head off.
I would have remembered that story from History. I would also have tried blowing the top off of a pickle through the use of party-poppers. An interesting notion though.