Last week we bought some sweet gherkins when what we really wanted was cornichons.*
In Spain, Graduate Student Girl and I ate heartily of cornichons. They are very fine with bread and cheese, especially when eaten outdoors by starving linguists. As illustrated below, we obtained a jar of exceptionally packaged pickled foods. In the shop, the jar appeared to be stuffed with four layers of stuff: cornichons on the bottom, then olives, then a layer of red peppers, then on top a nice row of cocktail onions. But when we opened the jar, we discovered that they were prethreaded on toothpicks: pickles-on-a-stick! We were charmed, and delighted both in waving them around and in laying them down alongside the cheese in a split baguette and then gently pulling out the stick, resulting in a tidy little row of condimentos. It tasted good, too.
Back to the present (or nearly), S. and I were sadly disappointed when it came time to eat our purchase -- I'm sure there are lots of people who really do enjoy a sweet gherkin on its own, and its sweetness might potentially put it in a camp with Branston pickle, which is of course more of a relish, as a suitable component of a ploughman's lunch. But we were put off. Sweet gherkins are really awfully sweet, and far too much with the dessert spices (cinnamon? cloves? allspice? that sort of thing) to seem quite right. I imagine that if I'd been brought up in the south, surrounded by things like watermelon rind pickle, I'd have a place in my palate for them, but I wasn't, and I don't. Oh well.
Anyway, we went and bought some cornichons, and some cocktail onions to boot, and had those with bread and cheese for lunch yesterday, and were much happier. But still this jar of gherkins remains. What to do with them? At last I realized that the little buggers are perfectly at home in a nice potato salad, provided they are cut up small enough. So I made a batch of what I think I will now call the Justly Famed Potato Salad -- you see I am very modest -- with some teeny cubes of gherkin added. It is a fine addition, and I recommend the variation. The only trouble is that at this rate we will have to eat potato salad for our lunches for some weeks on end, as it only took three eeny gherkins to provide plenty of gherkinbits for a whole batch, and the gherkins are legion. We'll see how it goes.
*Bonus cornichon-related link -- the "Cornichon loverZ clan". This one is far less enlightening, but more entertaining. It also, I must warn you, plays music. What's worse, it's French. Click at your own risk.