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Olive Toil: A Tale Of Two Colours

It was an ill combination. Too much Mexican. A metric arse-load of cheese nestled alongside an unhealthy amount of shredded pork. Three Diet Cokes to wash it down, all sloshing around in my stomach. In the back seat of our car I decided to read a book — a surefire way to add a mild wave of car sickness to the pile-on. And in my mind, buzzing around my brain like a schizophrenic mosquito, the knowledge that I still had to head home and eat Olive #3.

In case you missed part one, a quick recap. I, Mark Serrels, editor of Kotaku, hate olives with every single fibre of my being. As a kind of masochistic challenge to myself, I’ve decided to eat one every day throughout January with the expectation that, by the end of the month, I might actually like them.

But as I plop Olive #3 onto my tongue and start to chew, it seems like an insurmountable task. Holding the ungodly foodstuff in my stomach is hard enough.

My quest to somehow ‘like’ olives has gotten a fair amount of attention: on Lifehacker, from friends, from the Twitterz. Most of the advice I’ve had thus far is of the ‘break yourself in gently’ variety. “Try olive tapenade”, “don’t eat the green ones first”, “eat them on pizza for a while” — stuff like that. And while I totally appreciate this doubtless sound advice, the point of this challenge, for me, is to take a food I completely loathe — to the extent that the very thought of said food has my intestines tying themselves in a bowline knot — and eat myself into liking it.

Therefore this experiment has to involve me eating something I utterly despise, and avoiding shortcuts if at all possible. But sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Day 4, I run out of the completely rank green olives I’d been shoehorning into my gullet. My brother-in-law does me a favour and nips out to the local deli to grab more. He comes back with a tub full of mixed olives. I pick up one of the brown ones.

I brace myself.

Into the mouth it goes. I begin to chew. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it doesn’t taste anywhere near as bad as before. Part of me wonders if I’ve managed to somehow dissociate the intense olive flavour from the disgust I usually feel — because I have been trying to do that. Part of me hopes that my taste buds have simply adjusted, and the ‘liking’ process has begun in earnest.

I swallow. A physically burdensome act that, for the first three olives, has usually been followed by retching and stomach heaving — this time it goes down without a hitch. I hardly enjoyed the process of eating Olive #4, but my reaction was far less dramatic.

Maybe my body is getting used to it. Maybe these brown olives are less ‘olivey’. It’s hard to compare. I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat a green one since.

Tonight, however, I have promised myself I will ‘man up’. I’ll try one of the green olives, lurking in the corner of the tub (and in the recesses of my darkest nightmares). This, no doubt, will be the litmus test of my progress thus far.

Have I, in one week, managed to increase my tolerance levels for olives?

I’ll find out tonight.

Kotaku editor Mark will be filling us in on his attempts to overcome his olive aversion every week throughout January. If you’ve got any useful advice to get him through the process, share it in the comments.


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