Saturday, October 12, 2019

Akko Akko All Day Part 2: Spice Market Olives

The Middle East is still a trade route for spices, and it shows. I could stare all day, I want to try compare the five different kinds of hot peppers and make the perfect – perfect, I say – curry dry rub. Of course, baby-back pork ribs would be hard to come by… My trophy purchase in Akko was a half kilo of olives, small as that may seem. They are in the second bucket from the left, dark brown, almost black.
They looked a bit like dry cure but the merchant suggested I add olive oil and spices for a few more shekels. Hit me: the olives, a handful of dried peppers, and a generous pour of olive oil into a clear plastic bag, here transferred to recycled plasticware.
The oil is greenish, cloudy, almost milky. Clearly unfiltered, local. I ask where the oil is from, pitching my affect to imply that I’m not being picky, I’m anticipating his punch line, which is to point and say ‘the next town over’. Like the olive oil at Said’s, it proves something like butter simmered low with a pinch of fresh cut grass. They look sad, bagged on the table, but these olives, both in taste and the high that comes with a great little find, gave me bounce for weeks. They had a milder taste than the jarred dry cured, and that kind of unctuous grip on like peanut butter on your tongue. In my opinion, the native habitat of these olives is room temperature, generously poured in a shallow bowl with plenty of fresh bread, never beyond arm's reach in the Middle East. Or chop the dried peppers and olives, and just warm enough to sautee minced garlic in that olive oil and toss with fresh pasta. In this case the pasta is leftover, but as it's leftover from Smad's wonderful pasta with pine nuts, olive oil, and zucchini, this is no bad thing.
The drink there is fresh citrus-ade from the tree out back of my in-laws place; I can’t figure out if it’s a friendly lemon or an angry orange. A little Akko market atmosphere: random shopping cart full of onions and cabbage in an otherwise empty ally, street cat, and a little market still life.

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