I think the Chinese started pickling food for the longest time and every province has their version of fermented tofu, beans or vegetables. The oldest one in Beijing stands with 600 years of history and going into the store feels like you’re swimming in a cauldron of vinegar.
China’s most famous pickled store in the back alley hutongs of Qianmen.
I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside, but it was filled with jars and jars of pickled stuff from cabbage to weird vegetables I have never seen before. And shelves of that vacuum packed stuff. I remember my grandmother always had a side of a pickled something with her congee and those salty black beans, fermented tofu with little chilli flakes and she’d put sugar on it. I unfortunately only know the Cantonese name for it and not the characters!
I will investigate further to update on pickled foods, every country’s cuisine has it, from sauerkraut to the Japanese pickled ginger and my fond Trevisian memories of raddichio rosso where everyone had it on the menu when it was in season.