Cooking Experiences

Olives: My (not so) secret indulgence!

Everyone has a weakness. Most foodies, be they in Yorkshire, Leeds or further afield will admit there are foods that for no reason seem to have a hold over them. For me, the journey to get there was a strange one, but olives seem to have all but conquered me. This has manifested itself in my distinct lack of power to stop myself from chowing down on a ridiculous amount of them, even in the most unexpected of moments!

Olives, in many ways, are rather an odd thing. Used as a vegetable but technically a fruit, they don’t really seem to have their place in the world properly carved out. Yet, somehow, they thrive. For me there is quite simply no better nibble on the table at a gathering, no better food to enjoy with a nice cold beer, and we also shouldn’t forget that they have the great added bonus of going superbly with almost any type of cheese!

My journey into the world of olives started when I was just a young lad sat with family getting bored while they chatted to friends and I was asked what I would like in order to keep me occupied while I sipped my lemonade. For no apparent reason I was intrigued by the green things I had seen go by me and decided to request whatever they were. From then on, the taste stayed with me as I progressed onto shandy and finally a real pint!

I think the real moment that taught me that olives could be seen as a ‘gourmet’ food was when I tried nocellara olives. A really creamy olive that goes well with a touch of lemon juice and comes from sunny Sicily, it’s a hit. Best eaten with lemon, they truly do shine through on their own as well because they have a burst of flavour that combines so beautifully with their soft, silky texture.

For those of you who, like this lucky Yorkshire food blogger, are close to Weetons in Harrogate, I really can’t praise the brilliant olive selection they have in store enough. Offering a try before you buy service, they let you get a feel for what you fancy before you splash the cash. I know that Charlotte has a real hankering for the puttanesca olives that she believes go excellently with a nice picnic. I do love these as the capers and other accompaniments add flavour but don’t overpower the olives. In my opinion, the best olives they offer, though, are the olives with chilli; they really do come with a bang!

For a bit of fun, I will confess that my love of olives has not always been a smooth journey! As a younger lad travelling around the Nerja region of Spain I stopped with my grandparents to enjoy one of the many spectacular views and spotted an olive tree bearing its fruit. Being young and foolish I decided it was a great idea to try an olive straight from the tree. Simply put it was one of the most revolting things I have ever eaten! My mouth curled up and went very crinkly on the inside as the sourness poured into my mouth and made me realise that there is a really, really good reason why olives need to spend time in brine before they are eaten!

Despite this one rather unpleasant experience I really cannot explain well enough that olives truly are my secret indulgence.

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