A Taste For Olives

Picture of olivesMy first taste of olives was on vacation, as a young teenager.

Shortly after taking off from Bahrain Airport, I was served lunch of assorted cheese, Middle Eastern style meats and (in my youthful ignorance) what I thought was a couple of black grapes.

The grapes happened to be black olives and with revulsion I impulsively spat one out and it landed at the feet of an airline steward.

Embarrassed, I cried out, “There’s something wrong with that grape”, only to have the steward laugh at me.

These days, olives happen to be one of my favorite foods – it’s astounding how your tastes change and develop with age.

Olives are the fruit from the evergreen olive tree, are available in two main colours – black and green

They have been cultivated for thousands of years, but their country of origin is subjective, although they have a noble heritage with the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Egyptian mummies have been found with olive branches around them.

Olive oil was burned to light up Roman lanterns.

Most of the olive’s history and mythology originates from the ancient Greeks.

The first Olympic flame was carried on an olive branch (a bit different from London 2012 ).

The olive branch has been a symbol of peace for centuries, and the bible includes nearly 100 references to olive trees.

In the last century olives have found their way to the furthest corners of the world, with an estimated 700 varieties.

My personal favorite is Kalamata olives, which are dark eggplant-colored Greek style olives.

They’re usually packed in olive oil or vinegar, and are frequently slit so they absorb the flavour of the marinade in which they are soaked.

Olives should have a rich and fruity flavour.

Easy Tapenade Dip

  • 120g of pitted black pitted olives
  • 50g capers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • pepper
  1. Using a food processor blend all ingredients to a smooth paste.
  2. Gradually blend in olive oil.
  3. Season with lemon juice and pepper to taste.

Will last for weeks in the refrigerator.

Serves 4.

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