Wednesday, 26 August 2015

All for an Olive

                                                                             

Brian Mendonça

Try as I might, I could not lay my hands on any snack which contained olives, this side of the Zuari. My attempts, admittedly were feeble but what can you say about an ingredient which is not grown in Goa, let alone India?

‘It comes from either Spain or Italy,’ said the store owner, on whom I had pinned my hopes, rather grandly. All the shops had to show was the Figaro glass bottle which would set me back by Rs. 120 or thereabouts.

The urge for olives had started last Sunday, Saturday to be precise when we were waltzing by Porvorim. Having time to kill we decided to breeze into the newly opened Simonia confectionery store. The quiet ambience greeted us and in the far corner we also saw a sitting area with chairs.

My heart missed a beat when I glanced at the list of sandwiches and saw ‘Chicken with olives’ at number 5. Since my better half did not think much of it – though we religiously use olive oil for cooking at home -- we settled for the 3-tier chicken grill and spurned the ham.

Olives have a decidedly Mediterranean flavour being grown largely in that area, Africa and Arabia. The botanical name ‘Olea Europaea’ means ‘oil of Europe.’ Olives grace the tables of several embassy dinners and lunches in Delhi and you can pick up loads of them in Khan market where the swish set do their shopping. If in the mood you can step over to the corner and slurp in the minestrone soup at the Big Chill café which used to often be my hangout when they first started out at East of Kailash. Their Spaghetti Puttanesca, one reviewer informs us, is loaded with olives. (You might be partial to the Mississippi Mud Pie too).

Jesus spent a lot of time at the Mount of Olives. (Luke 22:39) He was arrested there, appeared to his disciples there after his Resurrection, and ascended into heaven from there (Acts 1, 1-12). It is prophesied that Jesus will appear again at the Mount of Olives when it will be split into two. (Zechariah 14: 3-5)*

It is no small wonder that at a recent sale my eyes darted to the sleek olive stretchable cotton trousers placed staidly on the rack. I realized my capris too are a deeper shade of olive. I am mulling over the fact that olive might be the colour of middle age. The only issue with olive trousers is you can only wear green shirts with them.

Olive Shreiner (1855-1920) was an African writer who wrote boldly about women’s rights. She was a critic of European imperialism and a believer in peace. Her best works are The Story of an African Farm and the feminist credo Woman and Labour. I wonder if they have these in the library. . .

That would go nicely with your pasta at Olive Garden, Arambol, Goa.
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*http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/mtolives.htm; Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 23 August 2015; Pix. courtesy palmcourtrotorua.co.nz


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