Topic proposed by the folks at RedRavine. Here goes.
Olives were not a part of my family’s early diet in the 50s of post War Hungary. The first olive to test my palate was on the boat trip from Genoa to Halifax in 1956. At the New Year’s dinner, strange and wonderful foods, unknown to us were presented at the dinner. Olives, oranges; not together but at separate courses.
The olive was unusually fleshy, large and black. It had a pit. I asked Anyu if it was related to the prune plum, as it also had smooth skin, was fleshy and had a long pit. i was not altogether convinced that I cared for the taste of the olive, but its texture was pleasant and had substance. It was not until much later, in Canada, that I developed a taste for olives. Anyu loved them and served them whenever friends were over for canapes and drinks. As I was usually roped in to circulate with various platters and offer them to guests, I’d usually tuck an olive inside my mouth and suck on it. This was my method for keeping my mouth occupied rather than interrupting the adults with a comment or question. I made a game of trying to eat the olive without anyone noticing my mouth was full. Over my early teen years, I thus became accustomed to the taste of the olive.
Green olives in particular have an attractive colour to my eye, a bit military in character, like the olive-drab uniforms worn by the Russian troops of my youth. I have since come to associate that particular olive green colour with a no nonsense, unfrivolous attitude, one of service, one which permits individuality to be suppressed. When i was a young art teacher, many of my studio clothes were olive green in colour. It was functional to keep clay stains somewhat obscured and ink stains and paint colours to be brought into a curious harmony of sorts. Wearing that colour helped me forget what I might look like and not fuss in a messy environment. It secretly pleased me to keep to a moth-drab appearance, suited my light olive skin, dark eyes and hair.
If ever asked to design clothes for a monastic order, olive would be my choice of colour for the clothing. The Army of God colour, much more life-sustaining one than the severe black of the Carmelites or the Augustinians. Quiet, restrained, subtle, earthy, unassuming, much like the olive.
I know this is somewhat off topic of foodstuff olives, but food has all kinds of connotations and associations beyond taste and satiation. Olives are such a basic food, to eat, to cook with its oil. The olive trees themselves have beautiful shapes and seem to be able to grow in harsh conditions. Tough fruit the olive, somewhat hard to develop a taste for. But once that taste is developed it persists and requires often tempting and satisfying. Everything about the olive is a delight to me.