Second to pickles, I like olives. It’s rare you get “local” olives, around these parts, but Rina over on 40th and Eastern gets us pretty close. She’ll be selling her home-cured olives, in the Israeli-style, from her home to raise money for Women for Women International:
As an Israeli, I am used to having olives on the table for every meal (whether it is breakfast, lunch or supper.) As an American, I tasted olives from many of the supermarkets, delicatessen stores or stores specializing in middle eastern food, but I didn’t find yet the olives I like, the ‘broken olives’ which I can easily find in any market in Israel.
I knew that if I only found a source of fresh olives, I could easily prepare the olives I like, since I grew up curing olives with my mother and later improved the process using tips I learned from Hannah (a friend’s mother).
Hannah was a unique lady who immigrated to Israel from a village in Kurdistan many years ago. She didn’t learn to read or write, though she and her husband Salach, who lost his arm in the Independence war, partnered with a local Arab after the Six-Day War and opened a restaurant in the Old City of Jerusalem, which they named Philadelphia. They served the best Kurdi food, including olives they cured especially for the restaurant. They were a living proof to the fact that Arabs and Israelis can live and work together (no politics involved); the restaurant was very popular. People came to the restaurant because of the food and Hannah’s personality.
Once searching the Internet became easy (about 15 years ago), I found a source for fresh olives in ‘our backyard’ – northern California. The olives are available for a very short period during the fall (if the weather cooperates).
I ordered a small amount, cured and let friends taste. I was surprised to learn that local people liked the somewhat bitter / spicy olives. It didn’t feel right to sell to friends, but once I decided to sponsor women through womenforwomen.org using the profits from the olives sale, I started to prepare a larger number of jars.
Naming the olives “Hannah’s Olives” to the memory of Hannah felt just right.
In the last few years I got help preparing the olives from neighborhood girls and women who like to be involved with the curing process. Thank you! The process is pretty involved. A friend built a beautiful wooden tool to speed the stage of crashing the olives, but we all prefer the ‘old way’ – breaking each olive with a small rock.
If you’d like to get your hands on a jar of Hannah’s Olives, stop by Rina’s house at 4033 Eastern Ave this Saturday, Dec 16th between noon and 4 pm. Profits go to Women to Women International.