While there are advantages to being the younger sibling (parents are more lax, you don't have to babysit anyone, and you can usually learn from your older sib's social and fashion mistakes), there are disadvantages too. For one thing, you're rarely the first to do something. You pretty much have to watch your older sibling give something a go, and then later, sometimes much later, depending on your age difference, try it yourself. Second, hand-me-downs. And third, your tastes are often overrun by your older brother or sister.
My sister was very nice to me growing up, especially considering that we are four years apart and she could have completely ignored me. Rather, she would frequently include me when she and her friends played together. Our favorite activity in elementary school was dressing up as vampires and roller skating around the neighborhood--a game wittily named, you might have guessed, "Roller Skating Vampires." Since I was the littlest, I was cast as Baby Vampire, a role I like to think I played with great aplomb.
But she did dominate me in the food department, particularly when it came to pizza. We would always, always get olives and salami as toppings.
I don't know why I didn't speak up more, but I never liked either olives or salami. I would have much preferred sausage or mushrooms or even what passed for exotic in the 80s--Hawaiian pizza bearing canned pineapple and Canadian bacon. So for many years, probably until I reached junior high, I did not like pizza, because I associated it with olives and salami, two ingredients I found overbearingly salty.
I did eventually come around to pizza, but it took me longer to like olives and salami. Salami, I realized at some point in high school, was pretty good, but only cold. I still don't like it hot. Olives began to interest me in my 20s, when I discovered there were actually countless varieties, the majority of which are not shiny and black, and do not come in cans.
Now I eat olives all the time. I like mild, pale green ones stuffed with blue cheese, inky purple kalamatas, and my favorite: wrinkled oil-cured olives. They are delicious plain, or served alongside some Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese. Or, they provide a fabulous, salty bite to pan-roasted chicken with rosemary and cherry tomatoes.
Pan-roasted chicken with rosemary, cherry tomatoes and olives
Adapted from Marcella Hazan's Marcella Cucina
8 pieces of chicken (I use thighs)
2 T olive oil
2 t. minced rosemary
4-5 whole peeled garlic cloves
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 c. white wine
24 cherry tomatoes
12 oil-cured black olives
salt and pepper
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet that can accommodate all the chicken pieces, heat oil, rosemary, and garlic over medium-high heat. Once the rosemary and garlic begin to fry, add the chicken pieces, skin-side down. Brown well on one side, then turn and brown the other, about 5 minutes per side. Add red pepper and toss the entire contents of the pan.
Add the wine and scrape the pan as it bubbles away. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and cook for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If at any time there seems to be insufficient liquid, add a few tablespoons of water.
When the chicken is done (it should be nearly falling off the bone, according to Marcella, although I stop cooking it before it reaches this stage), add the tomatoes and the olives. Cook for another minute or two until the tomatoes burst. Serve at once with rice or polenta.