Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Watch Out for Olives!

Due to medical appointments near and far, I spend a fair amount of time in the car. When I'm not listening to an audiobook, NPR is my travel companion. I recently heard Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview culinary historians Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe. Their book, A Square Meallooks at the impact of The Depression on American food since "The Great Depression was a time when Americans had food front and foremost in their minds because they were worrying about it every day."

I was fascinated, listening to them discuss the high priorities of cost, nutrition, and how filling food was, even at the expense of taste, and how school lunches became so important. Some of the recipes Ziegelman and Coe recounted sounded dreadful, but the authors also talked about some food ideas that made me laugh out loud. 

"Spicy foods were considered stimulants. They were classified as stimulants, so they were on that same continuum along with caffeine and alcohol all the way up to cocaine and heroin. And if you started with an olive, you might find yourself one day addicted to opiates. It put you on a very slippery slope -- watch out for olives!"

I love the salty deliciousness of olives, and coincidentally my plans for that afternoon included the next step in this dangerous spicy addiction continuum -- pickles. I cautiously gathered my garden cucumbers and stimulant ingredients, vinegar, salt, garlic, dill, and set about preparing several quarts of pickles.

After the gateway drug of pickles, what could be next? Salsa, of course!

Pickles and salsa may be dangerous points along the slippery slope of those spicy addictive stimulants, but I do like to live on the deliciously wild side.


  1. all those spicy condiments are among my favorites - they're healthy AND tasty. and homemade is surely more of both (and I've never had any desire to move further along the addictive stimulant spectrum, so whew!)

  2. I LOVE pickles and lately I've been loving black olives and some special green olives. Who would ever thought??

  3. Those pickles are making my mouth water! I listened to that NPR story and it reminded me of stories my grandmothers told me about how they were encouraged to overcook vegetables and use spices sparingly. I have my grandmother's cookbooks from that time and one of them has sample menus for lunches for school children & workmen...I can't imagine eating like that today!

  4. I love this post! And, it brought a song to mind - Hey, Bonnie - take a walk on the wild side! Hahahaha! This is brilliant! Who knew that pickles and salsa were so dangerous! Hahahahah!

  5. If olives are addictive then I am in BIG trouble! I bet your pickles and salsa are delicious.

  6. That was a great interview and I highly recommend Ziegelman's book, 97 Orchard Street, which I devoured after my first visit to The Tenement Museum.

    I'm fine with spicy foods but I really hate olives!

  7. Olives have never lead me astray! Nor has salsa (now I wonder if that is completely true). Your homegrown pickles and salsa remind me of all the years I spent helping my mother can bottle after bottle of summer. We all loved her pickles!

  8. Those pickles will be delicious and I'm sure the salsa will be as well. I've made some salsa but it's been...okay. :-) Terry Gross is the best!

  9. Oh, that books sounds so interesting!! You are a daring one...


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