Olives… 15 minute free write

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.

10 Responses to “Olives… 15 minute free write”

  1. ybonesy Says:

    Oh, how wonderful to come to your blog and read this post. I love olives, too. And in my writing practice, I touched on almost all the things you did — texture, color, trees — although with different details and in some places not nearly enough detail. I loved how you elaborated on the color, for example. Yes, the color does encompass all that you say, and I think it would be an excellent hue for monks or priests or nuns. 8)

  2. Melandroweb Says:

    Blog very interesting, congratulations, a cordial greeting from Basilicata (Italy)

  3. citrus Says:

    I agree! In my potting, I loved to find an olive glaze. I love olive clothing. Have to get some photo objects in olive.

  4. suburbanlife Says:

    ybonesy – thanks for your comment. I shall go now to read your because it is not good to read others’ writings on the topic before embarking on one’s own bit. Just thinking about olives makes me want to pop one in my mouth – love ’em, except for the horrid cheap pimento stuffed ones. It might be interesting to do a colour study of all the olive varietals, some have a purplish undertone so it might be a good colour mixing experiment for painters, beginning or seasoned. G

    melandroweb – unfortunately I don’t read Italian, your site has some good info. Is melanzine eggplant in English? G

    Citrus – Roger you have to post some of your pots on your site. Am curious about some of the glazes you have developed. The other day, Lookingforbeauty and I were in a second hand shop, and there was an unteresting water-jar, with glazed cup as cover. It had an olive-ish colour, obviously an ash glaze, strong finger rings but an unfortunately dumpy and truncated form. The clay was quite groggy, and the bottom had simply been cut from the wheel, so obviously it was a production item. I hemmed and hawed over bringing it home, but it lacked that certain rightness, and was left there for someone else to take home. You know, I see you in olive, orange and a certain kind of powdery blue, beats me why. 🙂 G

  5. lauraofharvestlane Says:

    I found you on the “making do” tag list. I had visited it because I have some posts there. Your olive essay was interesting. I’d never thought of just taking a topic and writing like that.

    God bless!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  6. mariacristina Says:

    Great post! I love all the scened associated with the olive, and then the direction the color took you in. I’m impressed you remember your first taste of olive. You were a clever girl, to suck on the olive as a way not to interrupt. At least you got to hover nearby and listen in on their conversations.

    Is wearing olive typical for an art teacher, or was that your choice alone? It’s a great idea.

    After reading your comment on Nita’s blog about Oryx and Crake I am now reading the novel. Your style, with the attention you pay to detail, reminds me of Atwood’s.

  7. ybonesy Says:

    I like the idea of the study on olive varietals. What a lovely palette that would be. I know this sounds corny, but my accountant recently redid his office in greens (of the sage and olive variety) and purples (of the deep variety), and every time I go there now, I am struck by how gorgeous the office looks. The artwork, the color of the walls. His tile floors are an almost cobalt blue, but deeper and more subtle. It’s the best corporate office re-do I’ve ever seen.

  8. suburbanlife Says:

    lauraofharvestlane – check out http://redravine.wordpress.com – the folks there havve a wonderful, creative writing community, and do their bit to advance the practice of writing. Thanks for your visit and comment. G

    Christine – am glad you’re reading Oryx and Crake. Your boys might also like it?
    I’m not sure olive is a colour of many art teachers; many women art teachers wear black as it is edgy and arty. my favourite outfit was olive coloured skirt-pants, and an aubergine tunic on top of olive coloured cotton blouses. If it got too hot, the tunic would come off. Kids must have thought I looked like a plant 🙂
    Does sucking on an olive make one look inscrutable, heh heh? G

    ybonesy – your accountant’s office must feel really good to be in, although tha cobalt flooor might be a bit odd. i would have chosen orange coloured saltillo ties – you know, the secondary triad of green purple and orange – my favourite colours! G

  9. Deborah Barlow Says:

    This was great G. I am yet another one with an olive fixation. We’re a large tribe. Thank you for collectivizing us!

  10. lirone Says:

    Have just come over here from Cafe Philos (congratulations on the sun mountain award btw!), and was particularly delighted to find you do red ravine writing practices too… this olive topic seems to have been particularly interesting in what it’s brought out of everyone!

    I’ll be back…!

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