But What About the Olive Haters?

Posted on: April 14th, 2010 by admin 6 Comments

The esteemed food science writer Harold McGhee reminds readers that some humans are genetically predisposed to hate cilantro. We know this already and feel bad for those people.

The untold story is the segment of the population that finds olives repellent. Olive oil poses no problem, but olives themselves – any kind – make us gag.

My personal theory is that this is a genetic remnant from a time when olives were poisonous to some ancestor of Homo sapiens. I’m only half joking.

When friends are planning to cook for me and ask if there’s anything I don’t eat, my stock answer is: “I will eat anything except an olive.” There are foods I don’t like (licorice, for example) but I’ll still eat them to be polite. Olives? No way.

This sometimes causes awkwardness with others. People think at first I am a picky eater. “Just the opposite,” I protest. And then when I go into detail, they are so surprised by what I tell them that I think they don’t believe me.

In my lifetime I’ve only met two others who possess the olive repulsion. Interestingly, they are both from Scotland.

No doubt olivaphobia is a rare trait, and that’s why we haven’t read about it in the Times. Maybe if we took a head count we’d learn there are more of us than anyone realized. Olive haters of the world: leave a comment.

6 Responses

  1. Orange says:

    Olive oil is delicious but I don't eat olives.

    I tend toward the supertaster trait. For a few years, I couldn't eat vanilla ice cream because it was unpleasantly bitter.

  2. DO says:

    Do you have any Scottish blood?

  3. Jon88 says:

    No connections to Scotland, and yet, I loathe olives.

  4. DO says:

    Clearly we've established a scientific link between olive hatred and advanced intelligence.

  5. Tish says:

    OK, I personally love them, in fact funny enough, I just ate about 20 from Ronda, Spain about an hour ago even before reading this entry. BUT, I can understand why you and others might not like them; and although I don't exactly live next to Scotland, I am in SW England therefore closer to it than some of your other readers so I'll do a secret olive survey over here to see what I can find out. I'll let you know.

  6. Tanya S says:

    Hi, Dean, I’ve always wondered how many of us are out there. I could have well written this myself. Same thing here – no problem with olive oil (because it has no smell of olives whatsoever), but olives.. they’re just disgusting and the ONLY thing I can’t eat. I’ve eaten just 2 in my life and both.. went back out: ) The second time it was my parents who tricked me into eating a meal with hidden olive pieces. After what followed they believe me now but other people still find it hard to believe..

    Btw, no Scottish connection here: )

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