My son, Declan and I love olives. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love them and I know Declan won’t remember a time that he didn’t love them. But why? What is it about an olive that is so gravitating? They come in different sizes, colors, flavors. They are whole, pitted, stuffed, pressed, and brined in a near infinite number of ways. Perhaps it is the variety in how we can enjoy them or maybe it is that they are so visually appealing. One thing is for sure. We are far from the first generations to be under its spell.
References to olives date back to ancient Persia and Mesopotamia, between six and seven thousand years ago. You will find them in accounts of Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Bible, and the Quran. The olive branch has come to symbolize peace, love and hope. For some reason, people have always shared the feelings my son and I have towards olives.
Flash forward back to the present, and I can show you some of the ways that Declan and I love to prepare this wonderful fruit.
Here we take an olive of our choice, in this case, I used a spanish queen or manzanilla, already pitted and stuffed with pimento, and add a little dried salami, like a pepperoni, or soppressata. I created a breading from a few tasting things, like Italian bread crumbs, crushed up potato chips, and saltine crackers. Drop it in a little bit of hot canola oil, and voila! A real crowd pleaser!
Another very nice dish is some baked olives. We use a medley, with some olive oil, spices and lemon slices. I am pretty sure there is no bad way to do this. Pro tip: Take a piece of bread to sop up the remains.
But our favorite… The Bella di Cerignola, or better known as just the Cerignola. It originates in the south eastern part of Italy. It needs nothing done to it. They are large, with a naturally mild, buttery flavor. Compliment it with some salami and cheese, or nothing at all. And although my son may be only 1 year old, he insisted that we import them straight from the source. Trust me.
And finally, in a similar way to how King Tut was entombed with an olive branch to ward off evil, our kitchen is thoughtfully protected with the same line of defense.