Some Kalamata olives in a bowl.

When I first unwittingly ate an olive I felt I’d made a grave mistake. I was maybe eighteen years old. It was a black olive that had been placed in the middle of a pizza. In my naivety I hadn’t known what it was. “This is not a foodstuff” I thought, dismayed, “why wasn’t I warned?” I was in company, however, and did not want to betray my unwordliness by spitting it back out. The second time I tasted an olive was also in error. It was a slice of green olive garnishing something or other I’d been served on a flight. Had I known, I’d have never put it in my mouth, but I found the mystery item delicious, only later realising what I’d consumed.

I learned to love olives of various kinds. I still often eat green ones, while my other regular choices tend to be Kalamata olives, originating from the vicinity of the city by that name on the southern coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. They’re not the most photogenic of subjects – I put some in a Tokyo Design Studio bowl for the shot above – but they are very tasty. The copy on the jar I took them from uses the adjectives fruity and meaty when describing them, the former in relation to their flavour and the latter, their texture. They are fruit, of course – drupes to be specific – though presumably they’re referring to what I discern as a vaguely grapelike note amidst all the salty savouriness. Meanwhile there is something undeniably fleshy about their mouthfeel.