Some jobs you take because you need them. Others, they choose you. And then there are those you eye hungrily, knowing that you're the only one who can do them a deserved justice. You watch, you wait. And then the time is right.
After the last Lay's debacle, we didn't dare go back for seconds. What the company gets so right elsewhere with its perfect sodium delivery system (a consistently slim chip, and according to their website, a good source of potassium), it failed in its attempts at regional foodways. And so we go back into the shiny, crinkly bag to purposefully recall a couple year-old bar trend that seems to be hanging on here in novelty-hungry San Francisco.
Inasmuch as one can claim provenance over a drink, the Pickleback almost certainly originated at The Bushwick Country Club in Brooklyn. A fundamentally simple if inelegant quaff, it consists of a slug of whiskey followed rapidly by a shot of the unfiltered brine of dill pickles, the latter "leaving a snappy, savory tang that curl[s] about the last remnants of the smoky bourbon."
In San Francisco, we have access to fine alcohol that has no need of briny chasers, but such a dare-and-a-drink challenge is not easily declined. And then there's the case of Lay's Dill Pickle chips. Available regionally but not locally for much of their existence, the dill-loving diaspora must have spoken, because many of the Tenderloin's finer oases have begun to stock the snack. We began the experiment at Larkin and Eddy's excellent Fox Market, where the owner confessed he'd never tried the foodstuff, but that he quite enjoyed the tang of Lay's Limón flavor.
The Dills are not to be confused with the similarly-hued packaging of Limón chips (addictive, but they'll sear your upper palate off), the green bag's design is straightforward: a pair of pickle spears, sprig of fresh dill, and lest you be confused about your purchase, a cluster of Platonically ideal-looking chips, enlarged to show texture. Upon tearing into the bag, an aroma redolent of vinegar. Do not trust this impression. The tingle of vinegar is there, yes, but behind it, a vaguely rye-tinted savor, as if you've just been given a potato snack representing the foodstuffs of the Lower East Side. Given the dearth of delicatessen in this city, perhaps such a flavor takes time to find a market.
We begin by cleansing the palate with a locally produced seasonal ale that amplifies the rye-like relish, and because we wanted a beer at hand in case the flavor got out of hand. Should you come upon a bar stocking dil-flavored chips, it might be worth your while to attempt an impromptu tasting, thereby earning the respect or the ire of your bartender. All in all, the experiment is more reasonably accomplished with moderate-to-lower shelf booze, as the nuances of higher end ryes were negated by saltiness, not to mention the annoying little bits of potato chip that get stuck in the teeth. The play of smoke and salt was a perfect opportunity to attempt a mezcal pickleback (jugo de pepinillos en vinagre, in case you wondered how to order a pickle juice en Español). You're on your own for ordering in Italian, because a Lay's Pickleback prepared with the Italian liqueur Sambuca is not advised.
You're likewise on your own whereas this macaroni salad recipe is concerned. By all means, try it and report back, should you live to tell.
Final recommendations: if you can find a smaller bag, go for it. While we took in 5 grams of protein, so we also consumed 44% of our daily recommended allowance for fat. Doubtful that Lay's would take us up on it, but we'd move for the ingredients list to include a measure of shame for consuming the entire contents of one of these "New Bigger Size" bags. As for the tongue, it burns, but only a little--too much pain spoils the pleasure. As to the prudence of such an experiment? Let us never speak of this again.