These were on our Shabbat table this week.
“Wow,” you say, with your most sarcastic voice, “those look really unusual. So different than the thousands of olives people serve around the world every week.”
But wait – they ARE different, and here’s why.
This past Sukkot, in October, we went on a number of hikes with the family. On one of these hikes, we enjoyed an only-in-Israel experience. As we pulled up to our parking spot and got out of the car, we all bumped our heads on the branches of a tree behind us. We were giggling about it and trying to figure out what kind of tree it was, when an older woman started talking to us.
I had no idea what she was saying at first and couldn’t seem to grasp the context of the conversation.
But boy, was she intent on telling us something. Eventually, one of the boys whispered to me, “Mommy – she’s telling you about the olives!”
And, indeed, she was. She was explaining that we had parked below an olive tree. And then she proceeded to tell us what we should do next. We should, she explained, pick the olives and cure them. And she went into elaborate detail about exactly how to cure olives, how long to wait to try them, what to do if they don’t work the first time and on and on and on. And of course, for good measure, she squeezed a few of the boys’ cheeks and gave us some brachot (blessings).
It was adorable.
So, we went on our hike, and then when we returned to our car, we gathered together and picked olives. And when we got home, Josh followed her instructions and began curing them. The boys wanted to know when the olives would be ready, and we kept trying to explain to them that it would be months.
Every few weeks we would try one, and then make that sour face, shake our heads, and throw the olives back for some more curing.
And, I, of course, assumed that only little old ladies and those born of the Land could possibly make olives to perfection. I doubted that we would ever get it right. And then one day when we tried them, the olives were actually good! We had done it!
And this week, on our Shabbat table, sat home-cured olives picked from the Land and cured to perfection in our very own kitchen.
We aren’t going to hang out an “Olives Made Here” shingle just yet, but it sure was a fun experience for all involved.