PUMPING IRONY: The Olives of Wrath

My distaste for olives probably will not affect my life span.

Whenever I’m out to our local pizza joint with My Lovely Wife, the question of olives emerges. She loves olives; I do not consider them to be part of any recognizable food group. So, in the spirit of marital compromise, we always request that the chef sprinkle them on her half of the pie.

Olives, of course, are a fixture in what’s become known as the Mediterranean Diet, a way of eating that health experts have long touted as the key to a long and healthy life. This creates a paradox for me, as I’d rather die than eat an olive.

Thankfully, the vile fruit can be crushed and processed into oil, which does not offend my delicate culinary sensibilities. And, according to a recent study from the University of Navarra in Spain, using olive oil as your primary dietary fat and adding fruits, nuts, seafood, and red wine to the mix will boost your brainpower as you age.

I can live with this. I cook almost exclusively with olive oil — even when I shouldn’t (see this piece in EL about when and how to use this healthy oil) — and MLW and I are big on veggies and fish for our evening meals and fruits and nuts with our yogurt in the morning. And does anyone need to tell me to drink more wine? So, who needs olives?

Plus, when I’m not eating — or avoiding — some form of olives, I’m often reading, which another recent study suggests also boosts your mental acuity as you roll into your twilight years. Which makes me wonder whether what we eat makes any difference at all in the anti-dementia equation. Still, I’m a long-ago English major, and over the past several months, I’ve felt a weird hankering to tuck into some of the classic novels I’d been overlooking in the years since college — The Good Earth, Main Street, The Grapes of Wrath, Middlemarch, among othersnone of which made the slightest mention of olives.

In fact, it could be that by ingesting olive oil on a regular basis and reading highbrow literature that avoids describing any scene that involves someone eating olives in their natural state, I’ve become smart enough in my advanced middle age to manage to avoid any situation where I might be forced to eat olives.

It is by such strategies that longevity occurs.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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