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Old 21 June 2007, 02:24 AM
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I, too, am compelled to do the slice and swirl every time I have a craving for cukes with vinegar and pepper. Given our heritage and the multitude of strange traditions and habits it entails, I always just assumed it was a German thing. My mother would pitch a fit if she caught any of us not rubbing the severed end to the very spot you'd just amputated it from... a reaction she inherited from her mother. They went even further, though, insisting that it had to be a minimum of four clockwise swirls (three might pass with only an exaggerated eye roll, but only if the guests are already gnawing on the tablecloth). Anything else left a trace of bitterness behind.

Who knows, maybe in my unfortunate case it's a sad, anal retentive combination of both northeast and German beliefs.
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Old 21 June 2007, 11:59 AM
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This got me curious. I live (reasonably) close to a region famous for its pickled gherkins. Besides, I like cucumbers. They may not taste like much by themselves, but they're yummy as a salad. Anyway, I've never seen or heard of anyone rubbing the cut ends together. Looked through some German sites, and the only thing I found that mentions anything about what to do with bitter cucumbers is this, from a housekeeping site (translation by me):

Cucumbers must always be peeled from the blossom to the stem end. The cucumber's bitter juice is located at the stem end and, if peeled the wrong way around, the juice will be spread over the rest of the cucumber. Otherwise, you can try and taste if the cucumber isn't bitter at the ends. If it is, cut away bits until the taste is fine.
So maybe (maybe. after all, any handy household hint list will contain its share of ULs) there's something about the ends and bitterness, after all. I still don't see how rubbing the ends together would accomplish anything, though.

For the cucumber-hating folk, here's a quote by Samuel Johnson:
A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.
...for shame, Mr Johnson!
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