Sea salt dried black olives from The Turkish Deli
Words: Mark Riddaway
I remember quite clearly the day I became an adult. That morning, there were several things I knew to be unshakably true. These included: 1) That U2 are rubbish, 2) that Liverpool always win everything, and 3) that olives are disgusting.
That evening, a friend of mine with ideas above his station ordered olives at a bar. I mocked him, pulled faces, ordered crisps, but, succumbing to peer pressure, ate one anyway. The world I knew turned upside down.
Far from being disgusting, these things—which I hadn’t tried for years—were lovely: meaty, firm, slightly briney. The naive certainties of childhood collapsed around me. Now my son, the universe said, now you are a man. The next day I bought a jar of olives for myself. Three weeks later, I moved to London.
Kuru sele olives would have been wasted on me then. These are for proper grown-ups: black olives from the Gemlik region of Turkey, dried with sea salt. They don’t even look like olives—more like giant raisins—but their flavour is that of olives x10.
The moisture is gone, leaving nothing but intense oils and textured flesh, chewy, like small balls of charcuterie. They’re bitter at first, but this quickly mellows into a pure, concentrated oliviness which cries out to be washed down with a cold, hoppy beer or a crisp white wine. I was completely wrong about olives, and about Liverpool. I was right about U2 though.