Garden grown vegetables, after school chores and my family traditions shaped how we started Olive My Pickle.
Growing up in Israel in the 1980’s was old school. We had one TV channel. I’d watch it sitting up straight, leaned in, wide eyed, taking in every detail.
I was fascinated and enchanted by life in America, and my idea of that was 100% informed by these three TV shows: Dallas, Dynasty and Alf.
From this exposure, my dreams were born and I knew I’d travel to America one day.
Thinking back, it feels like another life.
But considering that 40 years before that, when my grandparents arrived in Israel in the 1940s… it wasn’t even old school. It was old world.
My grandparents were Ester and Nissim. They fled the Nazi takeover of eastern Europe in the early 1940s, Jews that left everything behind to escape with their lives.
My grandmother was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who owned textile factories in Bulgaria. She lived in a mansion behind big gates and was raised in a home with maids, nannies and a cook who taught her well. She fled Bulgaria with her family when she was 17 years old.
According to family lore, when the war started her father saw what was coming and began liquidating as much of his wealth as possible.
He left Bulgaria for Turkey with his family and bringing seven bags of gold with them. They traveled by train from Istanbul to the Port of Haifa arriving in Palestine in 1942.
By the time they arrived, according to the story, only 1 bag of gold remained. They had traded the family wealth for safe passage.
To this day no one in my family knows where that bag of gold went. When I was a kid my family would talk about it being hidden in the walls of my grandparent's house.
My grandfather, also Bulgarian, came from hard working, simple, country people. He was to be a third generation sheep farmer. When the war came, Nissim traveled to Palestine on the boat The Exodus and he was held at an internment camp in Cyprus for two years before he was allowed to immigrate. (Paul Newman made a movie about The Exodus in the 1970s, that’s quite a story too.)
Upon arrival, my grandparents were matched up. They were both Bulgarian and only seven years apart in age. Besides that, I’m not sure if they had anything else in common.
They were married, given a plot of land where they built a house and assigned jobs. My grandmother was given a job as a seamstress in a factory because of her family's textile background.
My grandfather drove a dump truck, something he was happy to do for 50 years, every day until the day he died.
I spent as much time at my grandparent's house as my own growing up. Both of them taught me about food.
Both my grandparents taught me about food, but in different ways.
My grandfather and I were very close and he taught me how to love food. “Shai-kee, come here.” Sabba (as I called him) would press some coins into my hand and tell me in his raspy voice to go down to the corner market for his feta cheese and tobacco.
We’d cut up a watermelon from the garden and eat it with the salty feta cheese while sitting on the front porch. Then we’d take a nap. That was my Sabba.
My grandmother, or as I called her Safta, taught me how to make food. She had an abundant garden and a kitchen filled with drying garlic, herbs and spices. After school, my chores were to pick tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants in the warmer season and root vegetables and greens when it was colder.
Safta had become an industrious homemaker and no nonsense. I always knew my assignments and she would keep me on task. But she always took the care and time to show me how to peel and cut, prep and stir.
I loved it in her kitchen and that’s where she taught me about how to make pickles which we'd make them together from the bounty of her garden.
Fast forward 30 years and here I am, the owner of my own small-batch, fermented pickle company, Olive My Pickle.
The very first pickle I made? That was Safta’s recipe, her kosher dill fermented pickle.
Today, our #1 best seller is my grandmother's original kosher dill pickle recipe.
Back in Safta’s kitchen, I had no idea what salt-water-brine, lactic-acid fermentation was and why it was so special. And I certainly had no idea that the pickles and fermented vegetables that were on our family table at every meal growing up were live-culture foods, filled with naturally occurring probiotics and enzymes.
Those were just Safta’s pickles.
Years later, it was these pickles I recreated when I found myself living in the US missing home. What started as a remedy for homesickness turned into a hobby, then evolved into our business, Olive My Pickle.
Since we started in 2010, I've talked to so many people at the farmer’s markets who've tell me stories about their memories of making pickles with their grandmothers too. I feel like an especially lucky person to have had so much time in my grandparents' care growing up. It's something I share with our community of customers that I'm very grateful for.
Thanks for reading my story, Shai
Olives, pickles + family recipes. We have it here at OMP.
Fermented foods are quickly growing in popularity these days, and for good reason. They’re delicious, nutritious, and offer a wealth of gut health benefits. But where do they come from? How did this trend start? Dive into our blog to learn more.
Our story began with our co-founder, Shai, who spent his childhood with his grandparents in Israel. There, he learned to love the smell and taste of traditional fermentation. When he came to the US, he decided to create and share these traditions as way to reconnect with home. That hobby turned into Olive My Pickle, which he created with his wife Charlotte. If you're ever in the Jacksonville, Florida area, you can meet the whole family at the Saturday Riverside Arts Market.
Today, Olive My Pickle offers over 35 fermented products with front door delivery. Now you can add some amazing and healthy fermented foods to your family table.
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