I (now) love olives

July 27, 2012

I’ve never liked olives. I have tried to enjoy them, but every time I bite into one I can’t help but pull a ridiculous face as that acidity hits my tongue. 

“What’s not to like?” protested my boyfriend when I told him this. That was followed by helpful advice from my brother: “Eat ten in a row and you’ll love them.”  Ten in a row? He must be mad!  Even my two-year-old niece seems hellbent on tormenting me for being immature by gobbling down handfuls at a time, and always asking for more. Am I the only person who doesn’t like these things? How unsophisticated of me.

With a trip (courtesy of our client GIC The Villa Collection) to the Greek island of Paxos, the land of the olive, looming, I told myself that things were going to change.  There are up to 300,000 olives trees on Paxos: no mean feat for an island just three miles wide and seven long.  The place is renowned for producing Greece’s finest olives, in fact – so where better to force-feed myself until I enjoy them?

My first Paxos olive experience occurred in the sleepy port village of Loggos. We had stopped off for a bite to eat along the waterfront and, having scrutinised a menu packed with tasty traditional dishes such as lamb kleftiko, moussaka and beef stifado, I opted for a Greek salad… which was, of course, dotted with olives. Not wanting to let myself and the island of Paxos down, I dived in and selected the plumpest, blackest olive in the bowl. I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it one bit. However, I bravely went back for a second. And a third. Maybe even a fourth. I can’t say I relished them, but perhaps my brother was right: The more olives you eat, the more you enjoy them…

Over the course of the next few days, I tried and tried black olives – nibbling away as I watched the beautiful sunset from Erimitis restaurant, as I snacked on bread and tzatziki in the village of Gaios and even as I lounged around our private pool at the stunning Villa Bougainvillea (one of the three Loulouthia Villas). And, by the end of the trip, I had actually begun to like them (who’d have thought it?). So, to all those olive-sceptics out there, I urge you to try them, and keep trying them, as will I until fully sophisticated and grown-up enough to actually want to order them in a restaurant or bar. Green olives are next on my hit-list. Watch this space!

(Julie Jenner)