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.
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