a taste as old as cold water….


Lawrence Durrell’s precise metaphor is the clearest description of the taste of olives that I have ever heard or read. In truth, he was speaking of the wrinkly, black, salt cured olives whose flavour is as naked and unashamed as a new born and not at all that of the plump aromatically enhanced varieties which are more Kardashian than Kalamata. However, staying with the previously stated theme of truthfulness, I declare myself unashamedly in favour of flavour. Occasionally I catch a fleeting mental image reflected on a shard of a memory which has me enjoying those same black olives with a glass of retsina in the shade of a dark tree by blue sea but my more recent and tangible memories of them are ambivalent. Maybe a flavour as clear as that does not travel well…or at all. I have heard of asparagus fanciers who will take a small portable stove into the asparagus patch in order to cook and and enjoy the full unadulterated taste of the fresh stems before fugitive flavour begins its slowly accelerating dilution of that intended savour. It is said by those who have enjoyed the pleasure that the only echte truite bleue ( a grouping of words that goes some way to define a united Europe, if only gastronomically at this point) is the one cooked direct from the hook by the side of the gurgling chalk stream from which it has been presently plucked. There is to my mind another form of fugitive flavour which decrees that some foods, when eaten for the second time out of geographical or climatic context, fail to ignite the synapses with the remembered pleasure  and delight of that first mouthwatering experience.


The olives in the pictures, which were harvested from the trees in our garden and preserved in our kitchen, have not as yet suffered from that particular concept or, more precisely, my pleasure in their flavour is that of the asparagus fancier crouched by his rows of thrusting asparagus….on reflection, a nerve wracking position that I do not have to assume when enjoying an olive maison.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2016, Digital photography, Emotion, Expectation, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Garden, Humour, Mediterranean food, Memory, olives, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to a taste as old as cold water….

  1. Mad Dog says:

    They look amazing and the rustic look makes them quite desirable, above that of commercial olives 🙂

  2. Nadia says:

    I have 3 olive trees but they did not produce any fruit last year. I need to do some research this year,

  3. I completely agree. Olives and flavor!

  4. Sigh….we didn’t have time to cure any olives this year. At least we’re enjoying the oil.

  5. ladyredspecs says:

    A beautiful piece of prose to which I personally relate.

  6. EhaEha says:

    More ‘Kardashian than Kalamata’ – oh dearie me, I better watch it next time I actually put the second word on my comments . . .and rerelate to my olive knowledge . . .

  7. Your own olives! How special, Roger. These look terrific.

  8. Oh those olives look like I wanted to reach through my screen and eat them all at once. So how do you brine them or what is your secret?

    • It’s a long process, over 4 or 5 months. After they’re picked they’re kept in fresh water ( I used a big old bread crock) and the water is changed every day for 3 weeks. Then they are bottled in brine in sterilised jars and kept in a dark place for about 4 months. After this I work jar by jar, tipping them out and rebottling them with different flavourings and olive oil. This lot have turned out very well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.