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California (olive) dreamin'
Blame it on America's ever-more sophisticated palate, said Dr. Judith M. Taylor, a retired physician who wrote "The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree." "People began to travel abroad and taste ethnic flavors of all types," said Taylor, a San Francisco resident, referring to the postwar years when Americans took to the sky and the seas with gusto. "They tasted really well-cured Greek and French olives and they came back and had a California olive. It didn't taste the same anymore."
As glossy as a Hollywood starlet and just as unctuously voluptuous, these olives are often accused of being bland, boring and lightweight. Even the San Francisco Chronicle, usually a booster for all foods Californian, began a 2004 story on the ever-wide range of olive varieties available with the memorable line: "Pity the canned Lindsay olive."