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The Pickle Helper Illustration by Amery Sandford  

The Pickle Helper

Letter from Montreal

Passing by Simcha’s shop, you wanted to hurry and avert your eyes. The old-school sign was cute, but the fruit piled on a table outdoors, at the corner of Saint-Laurent and Napoleon, sometimes had visible rotten spots. Simcha, a stooped man in a dirty white grocer’s coat, would look on as you passed, your bags loaded with food bought elsewhere. 

I’d never been inside, but one day, my friend Adam and I were trying to make matzo-ball soup. I had never made it and was, relatedly, not very secure in my Jewishness. We were all jokes, but underneath, I was embarrassingly earnest. Could I do it? 

We needed matzo meal and walked into Simcha’s gloom, asking about it. He scowled. “There’s matzo,” he said, pointing to boxes on the shelf. He told us to crush it with a wine bottle like he did as a ...

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