Eat’n Out!: A Worldly Bar Food

Published 10:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2023

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Column written by Robert Duke

Growing up I could never understand what people liked about green olives, oysters, or liver of any kind. Still today I won’t eat oysters unless they are cooked and liver is still nasty. However, at some point in time, I decided I loved certain types of green olives.

I know when it happened. I was in Spain and there is an appetizer there that is primarily made from green olives. I will tell you how to make it in a minute. First though I will tell you why I think I developed that taste for green olives. While living in Italy I developed a love of fresh chopped or minced garlic. They put it in almost everything and I love it. I still add fresh garlic or at least garlic powder to almost everything I make. Some of you who know me may be shaking your head yes after experiencing some of my garlic breath. For that I am sorry. But I like it a lot.

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Secondly, lets talk about the olives themselves. To make this dish there is a particular olive, generally made in Spain, that is used for this appetizer. It is a stuffed olive but, unbelievably, they are not stuffed with garlic. Nor are they stuffed with pimentos or pretty much anything else you will find locally. They are stuffed with something else you won’t believe. I tasted these and decided I loved them long before I knew what they were stuffed with. I grew up being told that this stuffing was gross and never allow it to get on your pizza. I wasn’t even sure what it was until late in life. They are stuffed with the very thing I am supposed to hate, anchovies.

Now that’s two things I was raised up to supposedly not like, green olives and anchovies. Who’d a thought to put them together and make me love them? Spanish people, that’s who.

The olive is a little tart and the anchovies are very salty making the a perfect bar food for those times when eating a little something salty matches perfectly what you are drinking. To make them even more perfect they are made into this appetizer using even more startling flavors.

This particular recipe I will give you today is one of thousands you can find across Spain. They usually are bar food, served on a plate like and appetizer with toothpicks stuck through some combination of ingredients like olives, anchovy, and pimento or maybe marinated vegetables. Because of the toothpick they are sometimes called pinchos which derives from pincho which means “spike” or “skewer” in Spanish. They can contain anything from a piece of bread to meat of some sort. They are usually eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack while hanging out with friends or relatives thus giving them a strong socializing component. They are absolutely great with beer.

I buy the olives now from the Internet. They are made by several companies, but I guy GOYA brand. Sometimes I have seen the cans written in English but just in case. The Spanish word for anchovy is ANCHOA.

I just get out a gallon Zip-Lok bag, drain a can or two of olives and place them in it. I add just enough olive oil to coat them slightly. I then whip out my trusty garlic press and smash 3 or 4 whole garlic cloves directly in the bag. Sometimes I will finely dice several more cloves and add them as well. Then, since I like a touch of heat, I add some red pepper or black pepper to taste. I then add about a tablespoon of chopped rosemary or parsley or both. Close the bag and mix them well. Leave out on the counter to marinate. If you put them in the fridge the olive oil will congeal. They can sit out for a couple of hours before your party or meal to marinate. If you are making them ahead, just put them in the fridge after about an hour of marinating and then take them out an hour or so before you intend to serve them. You should put them out on a little serving plate and put toothpicks nearby because that olive oil can cause a mess on your fingers.

This little party favor is one of my all-time favorite things I discovered during my globe trotting days. Maybe you should try them when Eat’n Out!