Olive Toil: Learning To Love The Olive

Olive Toil: Learning To Love The Olive

There’s a world of different between being able to tolerate something and actively seeking said ‘thing’ out. A world of difference.

Yesterday. 10pm. I get home late. I’m buggered. My intentions for the rest of the night are simple: fall face first onto my bed and lay there in a coma-like state until morning.

But then I realise — I haven’t eaten today’s olive.


See, that’s the word right there: bugger.

On the whole, thus far, I feel as though I’m making solid progress in my quest to enjoy olives. What once were violent, stomach-heaving retches have now been downgraded to buggers and shudders. I shake my cheeks once said food stuff has gone down the hatch, like my body’s become cold ‘olive-a-sudden’ (sorry), but then I get on with the rest of my day.

In fact, at the beginning of last week I had a slight revelation. After eating my olive for the day I thought to myself: “if someone were to say I had to eat a second, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster”. There would have been absolutely no enjoyment. But I could have easily tolerated it.

But when do I break through the barrier? When do I make that next step? I’ve gone quickly from outright repulsion, the violent kind, to a grudging type of respect for the olive. I feel like a woman in a BBC costume drama — I haven’t been allowed to marry for love — I’ve married for love or a dowry. My husband doesn’t disgust me, but I must learn to love him.

I’m wondering if it really is all possible? I feel as though time is getting away from me. I’ve been eating olives for 16 days now, and I have about two weeks to go. Things aren’t progressing.

On Saturday I ate an unfamiliar olive. My wife and I ordered Crust pizza. After realising I’d forgot about my daily olive I stole a full Kalamata olive from my wife’s veggie effort.

And I felt like I was back at square one. I hadn’t eaten one of these olives before. The taste was more intense. More olive-y. More rancid.

I asked myself — if I was forced to eat this pizza, would I pick the olives off? My answer was a simple, resounding yes. Without hesitation.

I may have learned to tolerate olives, but I’m not sure if I can learn to love them.

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.


  • I think you need to start mixing it with an equally small portion complementary item
    For instance a small piece of cheese (fetta? Goat cheese? Sun Dried Tomato?), but you’ll need to consult many “expert olive eaters” to figure out what the best combo for you is… You’re not going to really appreciate the Olive until you can explore its texture and flavour with the sort of food that goes well with.

  • I used to hate olives. Now I tolerate them and quite often even like them. I found using olive oil in cooking everything made a nice “gateway drug”, followed by a nice olive tapenade. Took me years before I could bring myself to just eat an olive by itself though.
    You’re definitely doing it the difficult way, but I applaud you for just jumping in the deep end.

  • Crust. Good choice.

    You’ll get there. At least to the point of toleration/indifference. I used to find avocado, eggplant, chickpeas and peanut butter repulsive. Now I can eat them without much hassle. I’d still prefer not to eat them (except avocado – I’m quite happy eating avocado now) but if they’re on my plate I’ll eat them.
    Although, why eggplant is even classified as a food I have no idea…

  • I cannot stand any olive from a jar – kalamata is the worst variety. However, I recently had a revelation at a local cafe – fresh olives are really quite nice. With a milder taste and more fibrous texture, they are certainly bearable, and can be pleasant to the taste.

    • Trust me, there’s a very good reason most olives are preserved and processed: they taste very, very bitter fresh. I’d be very surprised if the ‘fresh’ olives you ate hadn’t gone through at least a week or two of being swapped between fresh water and brine.

      (disclaimer: I grew up on an olive farm)

  • I’m not a fan of just eating olives.

    However I love (good) olive oil on (good) plain bread. Maybe with a little salt or pepper too.

    Also Woolworth’s have started baking Sourdough loaves studded with olives. That tastes great too, really nice and moist.

    As for fresh olives, I tried some in Greece. They tasted nice compared to the processed, preserved rubbish you find here.

  • hummus + cracker + 1/2 a chilli and garlic olive (green, pitted) + sundried tomato = heaven.

    For you, it would at least be tolerable. But definitely don’t start with kalamata – I’m a lover, but they’re an acquired taste, even for me.

  • Personally… I think this experiment does work. Reason I say that is because I hated grapefruit with a passion. Now I eat it every night. If you keep at it, you will grow to love them. Just like in arranged marriages.

  • Well the problem for you is that you jump into the deep end.

    A person who wants to get to like vegimite what should he do? Start by spreading a bit lightly on heavy bread and progress from there.
    Same to you: get an olive spread, and start by putting it lightly in your salad sandwich, and progressively make it stronger when you are comfortable with it’s taste. After no time you will recognise the strong taste of it, and like it.


  • Never ate olives, but once I started having them in pasta dishes and pizzas, I cant have pizza or pasta without olives now! But… still cant eat them by themselves though

  • Mark, consider preceding your daily olive with a generous amount of syb-zero temperature vodka mixed with a thimble’s worth of dry vermouth. Works for a lot of people.

  • I used to hate olives, until I started drinking Martinis. Given my first dry Martini, the strong olive taste was a pleasure to rid the burny Gin and Vermouth taste. Now I like both and life is awesome!

  • There’s a really nice pizza place in Perth, that uses fresh kalamatta olives on pizza’s and they taste fantastic. But then again I can eat a metric ton of olives in a sitting and enjoy it 😛

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