Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Olives -- a required addition to any great Mediterranean meal

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When you think of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods, you have to include olives. Green olives, cracked and packaged in a vinegar-base are the perfect olives to enjoy with any meal.

Olives come in many types, flavors and colors, although green is the most common, black olives are also quite popular. A fruit, the olive is harvested from olive trees every Fall and early Winter in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions where they are most found.

A typical olive tree.

Naturally bitter, olives are fermented to create a smooth flavor, and of course are harvested to create oil.

Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria are the five largest producers of olive harvests worldwide.

Olives are rich in iron, Vitamin E and copper. They are an excellent source of fiber and many studies have shown they are great for your heart. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant

Olive are high in fat, but it is mono-unsaturated fats, which have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase the production of good cholesterol.

Ziyad Brothers Importing offers olives in many varieties and forms. The "cracked green olive" is among the most popular and you'll find it served with wedges of pickled lemons, peppers and parsley.

There is much Mythology attached to the Olive also. Athens is named after the Greek Goddess Athena who brought the olive to the Greeks as a gift. Athena planted the original olive tree in Greece on a rocky hill that is today known as Acropolis.

Every Fall, Arabs throughout the Middle East participate in the annual Olive Harvest, a time for great celebrations. It is believed to have powers of helping mother conceive and weddings are often planned during the Harvest season to bring good fortune to the new brides.

Olives are almost a required side for any true Mediterranean or Middle Eastern meal. Sahtein!

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