Olives are an important staple to the Mediterranean diet. Because of this it has many gastronomic uses.
We consume most olives as party finger food. Yet they can also team up with olive oil to play a dramatic role in cooking. Olive-growing countries have some classic dishes that feature them. They are essential to both Greek salad and the French salad nicoise. In Spain, they appear in sauces, and in Italy and Provence, France, in breads. Provence is home to tapenade, a tasty dip or paste made from olives and capers.
The Italian region of Romagna has a dish of lamb braised with rosemary and black olives, and the French have poultry dishes such as Chicken Marengo with black olives, and Duck with Olives — always with the green ones. The French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who loved cooking for his friends, made a similar dish with ring doves. He liked it so much that he would never make it for people he disliked, saying, “They are not worthy of Ring Doves with Olives. They will never have any and they will never know what it is.”