Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Depitting Olives

Today was my first day at Roberta's Pizzeria in Brooklyn. It was a bit of slow day. The lack of costumers lead me to other things, such as depitting olives. I depitted 293 olives today- give or take. It's hard to tell the exact number because every dozen or so I'd forget that I was counting and just guess at the correct number.

I depitted the olives by smashing them against a baking pan. I quickly discovered that to successfully smash each olive, I couldn't smash more than two at a time. It went very slowly at first.

Then something miraculous happened. The olives began to warm up and they became easier to smash. I could smash THREE olives at a time! Eureka!


I quickly tried to smash 4 olives at once and discovered that it was an impossibility. It was just one olive too much. I had gotten too prideful. I humbly moved back down to three.

Not all olives are created equal. Some are soft and some are hard. Some have small pits that easily detach themselves from their olive meatiness and others possess large, stubborn pits that fight the entire way- making my fingers work harder.

What kind of olive would I be? An easy going olive that gleefully jumps from its outer shell or a tough little fucker that's sole purpose is to make the guy who depits them angry and spiteful?

These are a few of the questions I asked myself while depitting 293 olives- give or take.


A party of six comes into Roberta and places a large order.

"Hey Zach, you need an extra hand making those pies?"
"No, Gus. Just keep depitting those olives. You're doing a great job."


There's a one pizza one shift role at Roberta's which means each day I get to make and eat my own pizza. The pie I made today was a mishmash of all the toppings I've wanted to try but havent gotten a chance to yet: It had tomato sauce, mozzarella, taleggio, speck, red onions, and brussel sprouts. It was an overcrowded pizza that wasn't particularly good.

The taleggio and sprouts were easily my favorite ingredients.
The taleggio is very well balanced- creamy and strongly tart towards the end. I can't imagine that it will stand out too well with a tomato based pizza though. I mostly see it working well on white pies- acting as an anchoring flavor-pulling together your mozzarella, ricotta and even parmigiano.
I was surprised at how flavorful the brussel sprouts are. They have a clean, slightly bitter taste that reminded me of a good egg roll. Can't wait to start experimenting with it as a topping.

I was least impressed by the speck. I don't have anything against Roberta's speck specifically, just speck in general. It tasted way to salty too me. And though it adds a nice textual crunch, I don't find it to have the same body of flavor you get with a soppressata.

That's it for now. More on my olive depitting adventures next post.


E. Thompson Thayer said...

You didn't tell me you got a JOB!!? This is HUGE. Way to go! If I lived nearby, I'd come in and order a big bowl of olives. Depitted, of course.

Augie Hoffman said...

Dear Tommy,
I didn't tell you I got the job because I thought you'd be jealous. We've always known that I'm the better olive depitter. I was afraid that if I told you, it would only bring back memories of your last place finish in that fateful olive depitting contest.

Now that you know the truth, please don't kill yourself.

E. Thompson Thayer said...

Dear world,

It has become painfully clear that no amount of practice can get my speed up to even a mere five olives per minute (an acceptable speed for green beginners, not someone who has given as much of their life to the craft as myself).

These hands of mine, beautiful though they are, are mere ornaments. They were meant to be looked at, not to depit olives. Why the cruel fates have given me a passion for olive depitting, and hands that couldn't depit an overly ripe peach on a hot summer's day, I will never know. I only know that I can't go on like this. I am like an olive without its pit... perhaps a poor analogy in the context of this letter.

Goodbye world.