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  • Richard Savage

The Curious Case Of The Jar Of Pickled Sausages On The Windowsill



A true story…


I live in a smallish block of flats (or ‘apartments’ for my American cousins). It’s not one of those huge communist concrete monolith tower-blocks the Czechs so fondly refer to as a ‘panelák’ (so named because they’re literally made of concrete panels), but it’s not exactly homely, and although quite a few people live there I don’t know a single one of them other than to nod a polite “hello” to in passing.

To set the scene: the windows of the flats on the ground floor (or ‘first floor’ for my American cousins) face the car park (or ‘parking lot’ for my American cousins), which, although private parking, is open to the public and is used as a short cut by all manner of folk going to and fro on their daily business. Anything you place in your window – Hallowe’en decorations, Christmas lights, those terrible nets that the British seem to love so much – is visible to all and sundry all of the time.


One of those windows features a jar on the windowsill. It is a jar of pickled sausages, which are commonplace in the Czech Republic (or ‘Czechia’ if that’s your thing) – they are known as ‘utopenec’, which literally means ‘drowned man’, so that’s nice. Anyway, there’s this jar of pickled sausages sitting on the windowsill outside one of the ground-floor flats. And I have no idea why it’s there.


Let me be clear – the jar of pickled sausages is not within reach from the ground and has been there for a long time. A very long time. Like, it must be getting on for a year now!


I have a few theories I would like to put forward…

Theory #1 – The Fridge. Perhaps the owners of the jar of pickled sausages simply do not own a fridge and believe that keeping the jar of pickled sausages outside is a viable substitute for electric refrigeration. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this theory as the sun shines on that side of the building for most of the morning and, anyway, I don’t think that a jar of pickled sausages actually needs to be kept in the fridge. However, I may be mistaken.


Theory #2 – The Feud. Perhaps the owners of the jar of pickled sausages disagree on the flavour profile of its contents. Imagine: if one person in the household were a connoisseur of pickled sausages and the other found pickled sausages to be the sworn nemesis of their taste receptors, then a simple, if not entirely elegant solution would be to keep the jar of pickled sausages outside of the abode. The pickled sausage enthusiast would then be able to enjoy their delicacy while their adversary was out of the house, for example. I find this theory intriguing, if a little bizarre.


Theory #3 – The Experiment. Perhaps the owners of the jar of pickled sausages placed it outside as a science experiment to see how long it can stay there and its contents remain edible. Maybe they take the jar of pickled sausages inside at regular intervals to taste and test the edibleness and digestibility of the sausages within (I have to admit, I have never been witness to this). Maybe they plot their results on a wallchart or an Excel spreadsheet to be later written up as ground-breaking research into the as yet little-known field of condiment longevity. This is the most likely scenario in my humble opinion.


I do not know why the jar of pickled sausages is there on the windowsill. I do not remember how long the jar of pickled sausages has been there on the windowsill. I do not know how long the jar of pickled sausages will remain there on the windowsill.


What I do know, however, is that the jar of pickled sausages on the windowsill is an enigma and a conundrum. It is a mystery that may never be solved without openly approaching the occupants of the flat and blatantly asking them.


And there is no way on earth I’m gonna do that!

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