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The history of olives and olive oil can be traced back to at the least biblical times. When the waters of the great flood subsided and Noah sent forth a dove it was an olive leaf she returned carrying in her mouth. It is known that as long as 6000 years ago olive oil was used as fuel in lamps. Maybe it was this olive oil that created such a beautiful Genie for Major Anthony Nelson to rescue in the popular television sitcom I Dream of Genie.
Today in modern grocery stores there are dozens of gourmet olives widely available. Gone are the days of canned black olives and green olives with pimentos as the only choices. For those of us who remember the days of opening a can of black olives and placing one on each finger then systematically biting them off here is the new olive.
Nicoises: Is an earthy rich olive commonly used in salad. The curing of this olive in red-wine vinegar gives it a distinctive taste.
Green olives with herbs de Provence: This vibrant citrus flavored olive is a delightful blend of herbs de Provence spices and large green olives. It is an excellent choice to use in surf dishes and with sweet spices.
Mount Athos green with Sicilian herbs: This is a second olive that utilizes herbs to dominate the pallet. Rosemary, garlic, mustard seed, and red pepper flakes give this olive a spicy appeal.
Mount Athos green stuffed with garlic: For a modern twist on the martini this olive is an excellent choice. It is stuffed with rich flavorful garlic and lends itself well to pizza as well as martinis.
Mount Athos green olives with sun-dried tomatoes: Sun-dried tomatoes give this heavy olive an intense flavor that is sophisticated and ideal for snacking.
Sun-dried olives: The drying of this olive gives it a rich flavor that blends wonderfully in sauces for serving over pasta.
Kalamatas: A tangy black olive cured in red-wine vinegar that can be from Italy or California. The California variety is denoted with a 'c' spelling rather than a 'k'.
Alfonsos: This robust winey tasting olive is soft and similar to the kalamata. It is a popular choice in antipasto salads.
Halkididis: Very similar in flavor to the kalamatas this olive is excellent blended with cream cheese and garlic for a flavorful dip.
Lucques: This meaty buttery olive contains pits but is still a wonderful choice with provolone cheese and bruchetta.