The Suitcase Lady


January 25, 2011, 9:26 pm

A young relative of mine loves olives. His eyes dance with anticipation when he spots olives in his vicinity. As a child, I had the opposite reaction: I would do anything to avoid encountering an olive. My unkind thoughts about olives have not abated with adulthood.

Despising olives is a personal blessing. Olives are maximum salt in minimum packages. Since I have an overly abundant supply of blood pressure, I do not need tiny salt bombs in my diet.

I don’t spend excessive time contemplating olives. However, I do have one recurring memory from long ago which is firmly lodged in my brain. During my sophomore year in college, a good friend became engaged. I received an invitation to her wedding shower and eagerly accepted.

The first food offered at the party was olives, bowls and bowls of them. Knowing that many people are fond of olives, I thought nothing of this. Lunch was served. It consisted of finger sandwiches with olive spread and a yellow jello mold in which green olives and carrot shreds were suspended. The remains of the appetizer olives rounded out the offerings. I am happy to report that the cake did not feature olives.

I look back on this bizarre menu and smile. Whatever was our hostess thinking? Was she an olive addict? Or did she simply subscribe to the theory that “if a little of something is good, more is better”?

I do know that olives are not an aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, the marriage which followed the shower did not work out.

As I was finishing these thoughts on olives, I came across this delightful  passage from Alexander McCall Smith’s latest book, The Charming Quirks of Others. Note that Charlie is a toddler.

“He still talked about olives, of course; olive had been his first word, and his appetite for olives was as strong as ever. Olives nice, he had said to Isabel the previous day, and she, too, thought they were nice. They had looked at one another, Charlie staring at his mother with the intense gaze of childhood. She had waited for him to say something more, but he had not. They had said everything there was to say about olives, it seemed, and so she had bent forward and kissed him lightly on the forehead.”

The females in our younger generation are also fans of olives. Two of them recently rummaged around the kitchen and gleefully came up with this snack.

5 Comments for this entry

  • Naomi

    Olives *not* nice!

    For some reason, I can be tricked into eating them in tapenade form, but they have also ruined many a pizza. Glad you survived the olive-themed shower.

  • liz levins

    I love olives, especially pickled ones like kalamata. Before 911, when one could transport liquids on a plane we brought home olives we had purchased at an open air market in Marbella, Spain. In our college days, Herb and I used to hop in the car to get to a fantastic Greek market outside Boston where we could shop for feta and olives.
    I have to say I think I love most of the foods you dislike. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to enjoy most foods I could not tolerate as a kid, liver, beets, anything green! I am about to have a big bowl of one of my favorite breakfasts, oatmeal.

  • Mary


  • Cindy

    I love olives – all kinds of olives (green and black). My 2 year old grand-daughter is a huge fan of black olives, it is one of her favorite foods and she considers them a special treat. Her daddy, not a fan – when he was younger there was a relish tray with green olives stuffed with pimentoes. He loudly informed everyone that he did not want any of those “Eye Pickles”. And we still call them that to this day. And he still won’t eat them. (Willow wasn’t impressed with the Eye Pickled either)

  • Mara

    I love olives inside a martini. I actually tasted them for the first time in a martini and since then, I like them a lot! :-)