Love it or hate it: Olives

by Patty Templeton

Love itThe eldest, living olive tree is more than 2,000 years old. Even at two millennia, the Olive Tree of Vouves in Crete, Greece, still produces olives. Some scientists date it at 4,000 years. Imagine the scenes of ardor and darkness that have been enacted in front of a tree as ancient as the Parthenon. I admire the gusto of any living entity willing to keep going as the world continuously, dramatically changes around it.

Even run-of-the-mill, younger olive trees impress me. They produce a fruit fit for working class and royal tables. Kalamatas, purple-brown niçoise beauties, and martini-perfect picholines posh up a plate, especially when you pair them with cheese. God save the world for its cheese and olive trays. All of the noms.

If you gave me the choice between a plate of olives from the Tree of Vouves and $1,000, I would take the olives.

— Patty TempletonHate itThere are a number of foods I do not like, many that I simply cannot understand how people eat: Capers, beets, skim milk, sun-dried tomatoes, canned fish that is not tuna, blood sausage, raw oysters, black pudding, to name a few. But I reserve a particularly special place in Donald Trump’s furrowed brow for the olive (drop the “O” and shuffle it around and you have “vile”).

Since the age of 8, since a neighborhood kid paraded around his retched afternoon snack, walking out to the cul-de-sac with olives attached to the ends of his fingers, eating them like they were Pringles, I have described olives as a cucumber pickled by someone who miserably failed the correspondence course on pickling, and then steeped in a disgustingly sweaty gym sock for two years.

Even on pizza – pizza! – cooked with the delicious companions of cheese, sauce, dough and savory, cured meats – olives have the power to ruin the party, rendering an otherwise gift from God to sustenance better suited for the bottom of a toilet bowl.

They have the texture of a slippery, limp, and rotting carrot and taste like the crotch of an endurance runner’s underpants.

Olive oil: Fine. Olive Oyl: Kinda sexy. But olives? Keep them out of my sight.

— David Holub


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