I bought eight jumbo jars of olives the other day at Costco. Vera and I have been waiting for the Castelvetranos to make their way back to the shelves for at least a year. Maybe two. If you love olives, these meaty, greenies are your favorites. Hands down.
Yes, Kalamatas have a special place in my heart. I could live and die eating Mediterranean food. The thick, creamy hummus. The fresh, crunchy cucumbers, pickled beets and cabbage, and of course the braised lamb with those salty Kalamatas. Just dump an entire container of taziki on top and you’ll never want another bite of anything in your life again. There’s proof and some good points for those Greek goddesses.
But we’re talking Castelvetranos here. Better than black olives in a can. Clearly. More profound and luxurious than greens with pimento. I never could get on board. Anything stuffed with blue cheese is just cheating and in a league of its own, just so we know the parameters of the game here.
Costco used to carry a gigantic–of course–jar of these beauties. But then one day, as Vera and I made our way through the aisles, me pushing my giggling girl and hundreds of dollars worth of groceries we didn’t need overflowing in our cart, I stopped in my tracks. The Castelvetranos were gone. Jalapeño stuffed olives? She was only four! A case of twelve cans of black olives? I guess we’ll take what we can get.
We didn’t even get to say goodbye.
Every now and then, we’d be shopping at Sprouts or Vons and Vera would eye the “good olives.” And I’d cave. Maybe because she’s an only child? Maybe because I wanted them just as much as she did? Whatever the reason, we’d add the twelve ounce jar of Castelvetranos to our cart, at a whopping cost of $7.99. Inflation currently has these babies over $8 now. And we’d eat the entire jar in two days. Our life savings just blowing away in the wind all willy-nilly, like an amateur paper airplane. Because of an olive obsession.
For months and months, and like I said, possibly years with an “s” on the end, we’ve scoured Costco’s stacked metal shelves for our favorites. Nothing but disappointment. Nothing but class B olives filling our cart, pantry, and bellies. Just teasing our taste buds for what we know to be true and right in the world.
We chalked up last Friday as just another day inspecting the shelves for our one and only. We scanned every bulky jar in every possible aisle. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Just another olive lover’s dreams, dying on the squeaky floors of another big-box store.
“I guess they still don’t have them, Cutie,” I said.
I pushed that heavy cart all the way to the end of the row, letting my heart come to terms with the cold, hard facts. And just as my mind began to drift, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.
There, at an unsuspected endcap, a blinding light beamed down from above on cases upon cases of Castelvetranos. The glass jars seemed to sing and dance. But no one else noticed. Just my girl and me. You’d think we’d just stepped foot into Disneyland. And get this! They were on sale! Nineteen ounces of mouth-watering green goodness for a measly $5.59 a jar! Price taken at register!
And so the discussion began: how many jars is too many? Ver thought ten was too crazy. So we landed on eight. Forty bucks on a gazillion olives? What a steal.
Okay, okay. I get it. They’re just olives. And you might not even like them. But these olives were a sweet surprise. After what’s been sort of a long, tough summer for us. Of Covid and not feeling connected. Of death and trying to find our groove. Of turning forty and rehashing my purpose and dreams. And out of nowhere, the Castelvetranos practically land in our laps.
For me, it’s somewhat about the olives. Obviously. We’re a little nuts about them around here. But it’s also about the seemingly small things that bring joy. It’s about surrendering disappointment and instead finding delight.
Friend, I’m not sure what you’re facing. Or battling. But I do know this:
In the midst of the mundane, even smack dab in the middle of fury and fight, the unknowns and hard-to-swallow truths…
The good olives still exist.