Pickles, you could say, are a common denominator. The addictive, salty-sweet, crunchy food appears in nearly every cuisine on the planet. Their documented history goes back as far as Mesopotamia, they’re mentioned in the Bible, and Cleopatra considered them a beauty secret. Today, the infatuation continues with produce as varied as cherries and turnips posing as pickles.

Edward Lee, a Korean-American chef living and cooking in Louisville, Kentucky, picks up that thread in his 2013 book Smoke & Pickles. He says “It’s a miraculous thing, the pickle. It’s nothing more than a ratio of salt, sugar, sometimes vinegar, and time. But with those few ingredients, you can create an endless array of preserved vegetables and fruits that are the backbone of so many cuisines.” Although Lee devotes just a single chapter to the fermented phenoms, his knock-out recipes include pickled coffee beets, bourbon-pickled jalapeños, pineapple-pickled jicama, and green tomato kimchi. Pickles, Lee demonstrates, are the ultimate blend of culture and taste.

And so, who better to join me for August 20’s Food Lover’s Book Club to talk about pickles than the Real Dill‘s Tyler DuBois and Justin Park? In 2012, the Denver-based duo launched its unique, crunchy pickles into the world with flavors like Jalapeño Honey Dills, Habanero Horseradish, and Aji Chile Sours. (They have since also collaborated with Great Divide Brewing Co. to create an IPA-inspired pickle.) Bonus: They’re bringing jars of pickled okra!

Pick up the book (at the library or at the Tattered Cover), do some cooking, and join the conversation.

Next up: Pie! Grab a copy of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily and Melissa Elsen for the October 29 Food Lover’s Book Club. Shauna Lott of the Long I Pie will join me to discuss the magic of the dessert. Plus, samples! Join me in reading, cooking, and chatting all things food. Feel free to post book suggestions in the comment box below.

6 p.m., Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library, 305 Milwaukee St., 720-865-0120.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.