Gherkins, wallies / Gurken

I see Des of Desbladet (see September 3rd, Puntnings, Gherkins and Wald) went for a punt trip in the Spreewald area and tried some Spreewaldgurken, which he calls gherkins. (Does he realize that’s the Sorb area?)

Well, I’m sure they are correctly called gherkins. But at home I thought of gherkins as these, which the Germans call Cornichons:


(Note the curious German word Kanuten for people in canoes – canoists?)
We only ever encountered the big ones in fish and chips shops, where they were called wallies, and where they still are called wallies, as I was able to confirm recently. But apparently it’s a Cockney term.


Those chips were better than they look. Incidentally, nearly all Germans believe you can’t eat fish and chips off a plate but have to have newspaper.

The other term I encountered for these was pickled cucumbers, which is a term used in Jewish cooking, as far as I can tell – there are many different types.

Finally, here are the pickle shelves in a not particularly big German supermarket.



It sounds as if wallies were named after the brand name.

4 thoughts on “Gherkins, wallies / Gurken

  1. You’re right – you drove me to the dictionary.
    I wonder if the word ‘canoeists’ was used as often by British sports commentators in the Olympics, when the sport was being shown, as by the German ones.

  2. I called them gherkins because the guide book did. (I didn’t actually eat any there, but don’t tell anyone.) And there were some Sorbian subtitles around, but one language I don’t know was enough to be getting on with.

  3. I think they are gherkins, but we don’t encounter them that often. There are also various types of pickling, for instance Salzgurken for people who like a salty taste. I bought some in the Spreewald on one of those trips, then finished up throwing them away because they don’t keep long.

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