Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit of as great importance as the olive.
It must have been our Eastern European Jewish culture, but we were an olive and pickle-loving family. Our refrigerator was always overflowing with glass jars chock full of briny things of every type and kind: olives green and black, thick, crunchy slices of green tomatoes, chilly, crispy sour kraut, spicy hot peppers and tiny cocktail onions. And the pickles! Half-sour, dill, tiny sweet gherkins and those crinkle-cut hamburger slices, just sweet enough with that sour afterbite. Chips, slices, wedges, spears, halves, whole and even relish, we just couldn’t get enough, or so it seemed. Scoops of olives eaten like candy graced the dinner table, or the perfect buffet item, each glistening orb of lusciousness graced with its own toothpick, olives with the pit still in that one had to nibble around with the front teeth like little chipmunks, or olives pitted and stuffed with bright red pimento, the best to accompany a favorite sandwich. The occasional and much-anticipated trip to Miami to visit our Uncle Eli would always include lunch at Wolfie’s where he worked for a while, or those summer vacations in New York to visit mom’s family would invariably find us for at least one meal at some Kosher deli. And what stays in the memory more than any other about these wonderful trips to these bastions of Eastern European Jewish cooking? The tiny aluminum or fluted white ceramic bowl in the center of every table full to overflowing with a choice selection of pickles and olives, an unlimited supply ours for the asking!