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October 2, 2007 > Olives: Star of the show

Olives: Star of the show

By Anuja Seith

Whether tasty morsels that adorn pizza slices or golden oil that pours into a cooking pan to make a gourmet meal or serve as a dip for Italian bread, olives add punch to food and life in a variety of ways. Olive history dates back to 17th century B.C where it first appeared in print in Egyptian records and subsequently has been mentioned numerous times in the Bible. As a Mediterranean native, it is a mainstay ingredient for Italians and Spaniards. California now provides almost 200,000 tons of commercial olive crops per year.

For the past seven years, the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce has organized an Olive festival to celebrate this fruit and its prominent place in the community. A small grove of olive trees still remains on the grounds of the Dominican Sisters property. "The event is basically a fundraiser for us, so that we can continue to bring activities to the community," says Gael Stewart, co-chair of Olive festival. All family members are invited to share a day with the enduring olive; tasting and learning about fruit which is not confined to pantries but has sacred significance for many communities.

Celebrating amidst a grove of olive trees, descendents of original grooves from Mission San Jose, the festival will offer a taste of freshly prepared olive-inspired cooking from Mirchi Cafz and Trader Joes.

Festival goers can nibble on more than just olive-based food; shrimp on a stick, Mexican and Portuguese specialties also await them. "Originally, many Portuguese inhabited this area so we like to keep traditional Portuguese food and people love it," says Stewart.

Olives not only pamper taste buds but coddle hands, toes and feet too. Many vendors at the festival will showcase olive creams and soaps. Local craftsmen and artisans will contribute to shopping choices and, for kids, a special children's area will provide activities such as face painting, crafts and games.

Live music will fill the air with soothing Jazz and lively Rock and Roll while those who have shopped to their hearts content, relax on the lawn with a glass of wine or beer. "It's a fun day for people to sit, relax, mingle and enjoy music," says Stewart. So, plan to spend a day with olives. This little fruit packs a big punch at the Mission San Jose Olive Festival.

Mission San Jose Olive Festival
Saturday, Oct. 6
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Mission Blvd. & Washington Blvd., Fremont
(behind Old Mission San Jose museum)
(510) 873-7701

Parking available at Ohlone College, Lot E

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