A year ago, I could not be bothered with olives. I would actively brush them away to get to other foods that I was actually interested in eating. They were the culinary obstacle course that I overcame to prove that I deserved the other actually good food. Olives were like the guy at a party with entirely too much cologne: you know what he’s going for, but it’s still gross. Fast forward to now as my wife commits via Amazon Subscription to the bimonthly purchase of a five pound bag of olives.
I won’t in this post go into the merits (or follies) of buying bulk olives on Amazon.com; that’ll be the subject of another post titled “Thank Goodness for Amazon’s Liberal Return Policy.” The fact remains that olives are genuinely delicious to me now. They have this glorious, salty taste that bursts onto my palate and lets me know that life’s worth living again.
And for some reason, they are ubiquitous at fancy events. Consider this: you eat olives with your bare hands. You know what else you eat with your bare hands that is nevertheless conspicuously absent from cocktail parties? Cool Ranch Doritos. And olives, like Cool Ranch Doritos, leave behind a fragrant residue on the hands that can only be removed by an incredibly dignified lick of the fingers or an equally dignified begging of a passing waiter for a tiny napkin. I’m very skilled at the second option; I’ve learned that the secret password for napkins from waiters is, “I’m an absolute mess over here.”
And here’s the crazy thing–olives have a downside that not even Cool Ranch Doritos have: pits. There’s no Dorito husk that you have to surreptitiously slide into your suit coat pocket. But olives–the only way to finish eating an olive is to dispose of the pit by spitting it out into some sort of specially designed olive spittoon (which you’ll of course have to bring yourself), or you have to reach inside your mouth and extract it. And there’s nothing fancier than ramming your fingers in your mouth and pulling out a fruit ovary. I know the last time I did that, my boss definitely asked how quickly they could promote me to vice president of everything everywhere ever.
The key to olives’ classiness, of course, is that someone decided that they paired well with wine, which is completely arbitrary. I’ll tell you right now that Cool Ranch Doritos pair excellently with a crisp zinfandel. Don’t believe me? Go try it yourself when you have a lot of time and no shame. Until then, the world is going to keep believing that wine and olives are perfect together. When my wife and I discovered that we loved olives, she remarked, “I could eat olives and drink red wine until I threw up.” And she could; she can; she is; please go get a mop.
I’m not writing this to try to go after Big Olive. I am soundly in the pocket of the olive lobby. I am fully in favor of declaring eating fistfuls of olives our new national pastime.But let’s all admit it: there’s nothing classy about olives. They are Cool Ranch Doritos in oval form, and yet, there is no restaurant called The Cool Ranch Dorito Garden at which, when you’re there, you’re at a college party playing Halo 2.