It’s National Olive Day.  The olive, one of the world’s oldest fruits, is part of a traditional meze/tapas culinary experience. The olive branch is a symbol of peace, hope, love and friendship. It is also one of the most versatile fruits as it is used in breads, drinks, salads, stews and as a snack. (I’m not sure I knew it was a fruit.)

Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner was always at our house. The cousins would come down from the city to our country house 50 miles away. One year, I must have been around seven or eight, the dishes of black and green olives had been put on the adults table before dinner. Our big old house was designed so you could walk from room to room in a full circle, the bathroom having a door on both sides. I walked the circle enough times to be able to sneakily consume the whole dish of black olives before people were called to the table. It was the one and only time my mother sent me to my room. I remember being really scared because she had never done that before. She came upstairs to scold me about being selfish and let me go down for dinner, but you can bet I never did that again.

We often serve a dish of black olives when my grandchildren are here. Usually it is available before dinner to snack on. If the little ones don’t finish them by the time the meal is over, their uncle empties the bowl so none have to be put back in the fridge.  My husband has green olives on his daily lunch salad, and I eat a few while I make it. We also have them on our pizzas. Wegman’s is our local grocery store and they have an olive bar so you can easily get all different kinds of olives, prepared antipasto fashion, or just plain. They sure make it easy.

Olives have good health benefits. They are an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer preventive food. They also provide copper, iron, fiber and vitamin E. The bottom line, eat your olives, but make sure you share.