Olive Toil: I May Have Formed The Wrong Habit

Olive Toil: I May Have Formed The Wrong Habit

Another day, another olive. I have no idea what number it is — I lost count a while back. Olives tend to blend into one another.

For the uninitiated, my routine/challenge is simple: I must eat an olive a day for a whole month. A food I loathe, a food my body constantly wants to reject.

I sat one on my tongue and begin to chew. That’s when it happened.

I have to stop myself, but it’s almost involuntary. The word escapes before I can contain it.


What? What did I just say?

A sub-conscious act, of my own volition but hardly deliberate; I wasn’t truly aware of what I was going to say it until I said it.


A word you say when you enjoy consuming a certain foodstuff, or when pretending to like a fragile relatives’ cooking. No-one was around to hear my exclamation, so I can only assume I said the word because I . . .


Actually enjoyed eating the olive. No. It can’t be…

Oh, but it can. My next thought is equally insane.

“I could totally go for another olive.”

What is wrong with me? Maybe nothing. Maybe this makes sense — perhaps this means my experiment is going precisely as planned. An olive a day, slow conditioning. I’d tolerate the ungodly substance at first and then learn to love it. Maybe I was learning to love the olive?


My wife comes home. I’ve been cooking for friends — a meaty bolognaise. It looks delicious. My wife, a faux vegetarian, takes a single look and says “I’m making a salad”. Knowing I won’t eat said salad, she grabs some of my olive stash and adds it to her mix.

I look at the salad in question. I ask myself: is this something I would want to eat? Is this something I would enjoy? The answer is no. I love everything else in that salad — tomatoes, cheese, lettuce — I wouldn’t want to taint that love with olives. Ugh.

But I just enjoyed eating an olive by itself, didn’t I? Why the continuing revulsion? Is it psychological?

The next day, all-you-can-eat pizza. I’m in the process of demolishing my usual staples: meat lovers, Hawaiian, anything with bacon on it.

A pizza sits, doused in olives. This is as good a chance as any to prove that I no longer ‘fear’ olives — but I can’t. I don’t want to ruin my pizza eating experience with this wretched topping. Why? It was only yesterday I was chomping down an olive, saying “mmmmm” and considering a second.

The answer is simple, it must be. Eating olives by themselves has conditioned me into enjoying olives for their own sake — but as a topping? Or as part of a salad? My old prejudices reveal themselves: olives are a food to be feared, to be picked at, to be cast out of the garden salad of Eden forever more.

Clearly, I still have work to do…

Picture by CeresB


  • It’s pretty normal to like something by itself, but not mixed with other things. Interested to see how this progresses – if you end up *liking* olives by themselves before the month is up, perhaps change the parameters to see if you can tolerate a Super Supreme Pizza

        • Actually, this makes complete sense to me. Coriander and Olives both have strong tastes, that end up making the things they touch in a mixed dishend up tasting like them also.

          As a non-fan of olives *and* coriander, I have experienced this. I do find that coriander is a love-or-hate thing, probably because it is such a strong flavour. Much like olives.

          So no, not an idiot. And the forceful rudeness of your response really wasn’t required.

        • I have to admit I cannot STAND coriander, it makes me feel sick.

          However, I agree Citizen, I have absolutely no idea where Drew got that from? Noone even mentioned coriander

  • I know the solution to your pizza problem!
    Get that Dominoes Puff Pastry pizza with Feta Cheese!
    They put olives on that too. But because it’s not your regular
    deep pan or thin crispy pizza but a totally different base that doesn’t
    look like a regular pizza, it will be allright!
    Plus, the olives they put on that go REALLY well with it! 🙂

  • I loved olives….
    Then I ate at some bad mediterranean food and got food poisoning and whilst throwing my guts up all I could tatse was olive aftertaste.
    Now I can’t eat olives.

  • Depending on the state you live in, maybe you could ask people for suggestions as to a good place to get olives on a pizza? If you live in SA I’ll be happy to give you some great places.

  • QUOTE – ME
    Article: Olive Toil article no.1

    “also try to ramp up your dosage of olives – eat one raw as usual, but then later in the day, eat one or two more masked with philadelphia cheese and bread. that way you’ll get used to it hidden amongst other flavours.

    I told you this from a month ago, i knew this would happen!

  • Olives on a pizza, or in a pasta dish, I can understand being hesitant if you’re not a fan of olives mixed with other flavours. I personally am now unable to eat a salad without olives. It adds that bit of saltiness to prevent my mouth exploding at how boring everything else is.

    Capers are also great.

  • I used to love olives in food but couldn’t eat them on their own; now I can do both quite happily. Are you eating the black kalamata olives, which tend to be milder and tastier than the harder, bitterer green ones? They are an excellent topping for pizzas and salads, and if you just take a big bite you’ll probably find they are actually a delicious accompaniment.

  • I think you’ll find that a lot of it is psychological. You’ve spent so long looking at salads and pizzas with olives on it, and consciously thinking “That’d be tasty without the olives”, that changing your mind in the short term about the olives themselves, still hasn’t changed the part of your brain that subconsciously decides what you will or won’t like.

    Personally, I used to not like Vegemite. Then, during uni, a housemate used to eat it every morning for breakfast, and I got into the habit of doing it as well. About six months later, after eating Vegemite on toast every morning, and quite enjoying it, someone asked me if I liked Vegemite. Without thinking, I replied that I didn’t, and my brain suddenly filled with thoughts about how bad Vegemite was. It was only when I looked back at my behaviours I had the feeling of dissonance, that while I felt like I “didn’t like Vegemite”, my actions were those of someone who certainly did. It was a very strange feeling.

    I have to guess that if you did try that pizza/salad, you’d find you enjoyed it much more than you’d expect.

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