I think sometimes we take for granted the things we’ve eaten while growing up. Maybe we feel as though the things we bought and ate as a kid will always be there for us to revisit when our taste buds ache for something nostalgic and comforting. Perhaps we feel savvy enough in the kitchen to recreate the taste of what we easily purchased, but it never hits the mark exactly.
When I read that Maui Pickled Products was closing down their operations at the end of January, I felt a pang of loss. I also felt some regret that I didn’t buy a jar while I was home in December to enjoy while stuffing my face with other comfort foods I was inhaling on my annual overeating-pilgrimage back home to Hawaii.
I ate their pickled onions, radishes, and occasionally cucumbers mostly when I was over at a friend’s place while growing up. Once in a while, we’d have a jar in the house, but I seemed to be the only one who ate it so my parents didn’t really buy it often, if at all.
After reading an article that detailed why they were stopping operations, some history on the farm, and how the family business all began, I felt like I would never get to taste that bit of my childhood ever again. The chances of me finding a jar of any of their products here in San Francisco was slim. I’d have to do a lot of driving around or calling to see if anyone even stocked them.
Lo and behold, the culinary gods smiled upon me while I was at my local Japanese market the other day. This place is tiny and cramped, but is stocked with so many things and run by the friendliest people. As a bonus for me, they tend to carry a handful of things from Hawaii that I can’t find anywhere else in the Bay Area, like Redondo’s Portuguese Sausage (my favored brand).
I was there to get something else entirely, but when I walked past their refrigerator that holds all the pickled products you could ever want, I nearly squealed with joy when I saw that familiar jar. The greedy part of me wanted to clear out their entire stock, but the rational and generous side that wants others to share in the final taste won out. So I got one jar that would be my one last taste of these beloved pickles.
I will savor each and every pickle that I get to crunch into. I will smile with every slurp of the spicy vinegary goodness. And I will thank the Uradomo family with each mouthful for making something so delicious that I’ve enjoyed for most of my life.
Sure, I could attempt to make these pickles on my own since pickling isn’t something that’s difficult. But believe me, I’ve tried and it always falls a touch short. Maybe it’s because the vegetables goes from harvest to pickling so quickly, maybe it’s because the family has been doing this for decades and there’s no way to fake that level of experience, maybe their type of love that goes into their products is different than mine. Whatever it is, I’m glad for these final bites made by the professionals.
Though, I have to admit, it’s a different experience tasting these pickles while bundled up in sweaters with a heater going in San Francisco’s chilly weather while being reminded of how refreshing these were when sweating it out in hot and humid Ewa Beach.
The moral of the story here is always to take the time and indulge in the things you enjoy while you can, when you can, and as often as you desire. We never know how long these things will be around, we never know how long we’re going to be around. And also support local businesses frequently because you never know when they might close down.
Note: I would link to the original article where I read about Maui Pickled Products closing down, but it’s behind a paywall. I did find this article from Maui News, which also shares some history of the family and farm. If you have a few moments, I suggest reading it.