The olive was as much a mystery to me growing up in Yorkshire in the 1950’s as was garlic (see yesterday’s post, including the Quotation of the Day). I don’t remember my first taste of an olive, which is strange, considering how unique it is. I also don’t know why they failed to make the everyday table amongst us ordinary working-class folk, given that the English have a love of salty savoury tastes – although I strongly suspect cost was the culprit, olives being an exotic imported item from The Continent and all.
While I was growing up, olive oil was purchased in tiny bottles from the chemist for medicinal reasons (sore ears, I think), but definitely not used for cooking. I am sure that the rich and cultured in England did appreciate good olive oil however, because there are references to it in English from the fourteenth century. As for olives themselves, here are recipes using them in English cookery books of course, and it seems that they were considered ‘French’, if most of the sources are to be believed. Today I give you a couple of elegant ideas for olives from well-known nineteenth century sources.
French Olive Sauce.
Stone the olives, and stew in veal stock till tender, and the liquor nearly reduced ; season with cayenne, salt, and lemon juice.
London Art of Cookery, John Farley (1811)
Stuffed Olives For Garnish
Take 1 lb. of large and round olives; remove the stones with a cutter, and blanch for three minutes in boiling water; drain, and fill the hollow in each olive with some Chicken Forcemeat, mixed with some d'Uxelles.
The royal cookery book: (Le Livre de Cuisine), Jules Gouffé (1867)
Quotation for the Day
The ripe Olives overturne the stomacke, and cause wambling therein.
W. Langham Garden of Health.