October 19 – Bettara-Ichi – Pickle Fair in Tokyo

Posted on October 19, 2013

Sweet and salty daikon radish pickles!

And lots of them!
Many Americans think of “pickles” as cucumbers that have been pickled...
Which means they have been preserved in brine and / or vinegar...

Sweet or sour, large or small, sticky and juicy and always green.



But of course foods other than cucumbers can be pickled, too!

Olives are pickled. People eat pickled beets, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, mangos, cabbage, turnips, gooseberries...

Well—just about any edible plant part can be pickled! And people also pickle fish, meat, eggs, and even rice. Today's pickle market in Tokyo, Japan, concentrates on pickled daikon radishes. The pickles are large, sticky, white blobs that don't make me think “pickle” at all!

(Get this: vendors used to sell the bettara dangling from ropes. When people walked home from the market, they would swing the pickles by the ropes, calling out to warn others that they had sticky pickles!)

In the past, vendors knew that the people of Tokyo were getting ready for a Shinto ceremony to honor the god Ebisu, one of the seven gods of luck. The Ebisu festival was held on October 20, so the vendors would set up their wares outside of the shrine gates the day before, and they would sell people wooden images of Ebisu. Of course, food vendors would set up there, too—to lure hungry shoppers to purchase their foods. The fair grew and grew, and now there are between 400 and 500 stalls set up in the streets!


Hopefully, many of these stalls are selling things other than pickles! I mean, we can eat only so many pickles in an evening!

Why does brine and vinegar preserve food?

It is difficult for bacteria to grow in very salty or acidic solutions, and that is why from ancient times people have used salt and vinegar (which is a form of acid) to keep food from going bad. Learn more about pickled foods here

Here is a step-by-step guide to making homemade pickles. 

Weird pickle stuff...

I am uncertain if all these weird pickle “facts” are actually true. It would be interesting to dig in and find out, wouldn't it?

  • I read that there is a law in Connecticut that a pickle can only be officially called a pickle if it bounces.
  • People create and sell Koolickles, 
    which are colorful Kool-Aid pickles!








  • One commercial product I think I will skip is pickled pigs' lips! Also popular with some, but not me, are pickled pigs' feet.







  • What do you think of Pickle Sickles? These pickle juice “popsickles” are supposed to be a craze in Texas.





  • Dill pickle bread is supposed to be truly yummy for those of us who like sourdough. 

  • These are weird...but I kind of like the pickle shaped band-aids available here

  • In the past, pickled food stored up for emergencies was so important on some Pacific islands, a man had to prove worthy of marrying by showing his prospective bride's parents his pickled food inside his banana-leaf-lined sand pits!
I can just imagine that conversation: “May I have the honor of your daughter's hand in marriage?” “Show me your pickle pits!”

Also on this date:

Teen Read Week (October 13 – 19)

This year's theme: Seek the Unknown

















Plan Ahead:

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