As a child, I drank pickle juice from the jar. I still do. As far as I'm concerned, the saltier, the more sour, the more wince-inducing a snack, the better. I've become committed to the cornichons from Trader Joe's (garlicky and far superior to that ubiquitous Napoleon brand found in most grocery stores), and addicted to Ybarra brand Anchovy Stuffed Olives available at the Spanish Table (1427 Western Ave, 682-2827). No disrespect to kosher dills or the glorious array of pickled green beans, asparagus, and beets out there—I love you all—but the world of pickles is more diverse and exhilarating than most people realize.
Enter Mixed Pickle, an Indian condiment available as a side dish (75 cents) at Annapurna Cafe (1833 Broadway, 320-7770) and at specialty grocery stores around town. Mixed Pickle is made up of an astonishing array of fruits, vegetables, and spices—green mango, garlic, carrots, ginger, gooseberries, cardamom pods, as well as anise, fenugreek, onion, turmeric, and mustard seeds—all packed in oil, as opposed to vinegar, with near obscene amounts of chili powder and salt. The fruits and vegetables glow electric neon, and are soft, spreadable, and alien looking. This stuff is mind-blowingly spicy, salty, citrus-y, and complex—each small bite (trust me—ingesting anything larger than a small bite will likely result in your head imploding) reveals a new flavor, and begs for you to find a new cracker or bread on which to spread it.