Image via WikipediaGrowing up, I hated olives. With a passion. The only olive I liked was my Great Aunt Olive. (She brought me cool Beatrix Potter stuff from England. I also would have appreciated Olive, The Other Reindeer, but she wasn't around.)
The only olives my New England Yankee/Polish Immigrant family knew were the canned black variety that resembled (and tasted like) rubber washers.... or the equally offensive green kind stuffed with red pieces of something-or-other. Every holiday, I passed the obligatory olive/gherkin dish around and prayed the smell wouldn't make me hurl.
Enter my Turkish mother-in-law.
Kahvalti (Turkish breakfast) was her thing. She made homemade cheese (don't even ask how that smelled), blended her own teas, and insisted I try the olives. Wrinkly, shiny, weird-as-hell looking salt cured olives. With pits even! Of course, my DH just laughed at me when I objected.
Fast forward many years and I've made my peace with olives. Seems not all of them taste like rubber. :) In fact, sometimes you'll see me standing at the chichi olive bar choosing between a dozen varieties.
Here are some pointers I used to get myself past the can/jar.
- I stay away from the bitter green varieties because the curing process usually involves lye. They say it all gets rinsed away, but I like to play it safe. (Yes, lye from the cleaning aisle. Yuck! And yet, before I knew this, I did eat green olives...)
- Black, oil-cured olives are salty and wrinkly. They have the strongest flavor (which I actually like these days) and don't keep very long. I only buy small batches. There's nothing I hate more than a mushy olive. *shivers*
- Brined olives are cured in salty water for a few weeks. A good example is a Kalamata. These generally have the most fruit on the pit, no matter what size you choose. They're the most versatile.
- Marinated - in vinegar and olive oil, sometimes with garlic and herbs. These can get too funky for me, but sometimes I'll find a nice one. I like when they toss in some big capers. Those are yummy.