I am not an olive girl. I've never really enjoyed the taste of olives. Briney, mildly bitter, slightly sour... they have a combination of flavors that I think you either love or hate, and I'm afraid to say I've never loved them.
At the same time, I'm not the type of person who refuses to try new foods. I think it's very important for people to be open-minded and expand their horizons, especially when it comes to what they eat.
Thus, when a friend brought this Paté di Olive di Gaeta back for me from Italy, I knew I would have to try it. First, it was a gift, and secondly, he raved about its taste, and it sounded good.
Because I know that I am not a huge fan of the taste of olives, I decided to test it out in an unintimidating form so that I could learn to like it before my brain automatically recognized the taste of olive and rejected it. I figured that some cinnamon raisin bread would be the perfect vehicle of transmission (oh yes, now you see my biology background rearing its head). I felt the sweetness of the raisins and the scent of the cinnamon would work well to compliment the darker flavor of the olives.
Also, because olives can be acidic, I thought I would mellow out the flavor a bit with some peanut butter, especially since peanut butter and cinnamon raisin bread get along so well.
So, for my first exposure, I toasted myself a slice of cinnamon raisin bread, spread a very thin layer of peanut butter on top, and then spread a layer of the olive paté on top of that.
The result was a complex meld of flavors that worked to highlight and complement each other very well. As I had predicted, the fat of the peanut butter helped to smooth out some of the bitterness in the olive paste, and the slightly sweet raisins provided a nice balance to the acidity.
While it may not have been the traditional way in which olive paste is eaten, I liked my slow introduction to the flavors. It was like a first date; the olive paste did not reveal all of its complexities and I, allured by what I had seen the first time around, had to come back for date #2.
This "second date" had to be more traditional. I wanted to see the olive paste shine by itself and see if we could get along together without any distractions. So I tried the paste the second time around on thick toasted bread—and not that processed, bleached, pre-sliced stuff, but real bread—and I enjoyed it.
Apparently me and olive paste get along rather well. I'm not saying I would eat it by the spoonful all by its lonesome, but I'm not giving this away to anyone else and I'm not exactly sharing. Who knew I would ever become the girl who hogged olive paste to herself? I certainly didn't see this one coming.
Since then, I've been enjoying the olive paste, hoarding it to myself, eating it sometimes on cinnamin raisin bread, sometimes with peanut butter, and occasionally with chocolate spread (oh yes). Soon I think I might introduce it into an omelet or scrambled eggs, perhaps with some caramelized onions and tomatoes.
So while this probably isn't the start of a life-long love affair, I believe it may develop into a beautiful friendship.