I like a lot of foods people seem to hate. My favorite Thanksgiving pie is mincemeat, not pumpkin. My favorite licorice color is black (red is just a licorice imposter). You can heap any kind of shellfish you want on my plate except oysters. You’ll find blue cheese in my salad and Brussel sprouts cozying up to my steak. But what about “America’s Most Hated Food”? Was I born in the wrong country? Sorry fellow citizens, I must respectfully disagree with the winner of a recent survey on hated foods.  Black or green, stuffed or plain, sliced or diced, there’s nothing quite like the taste of an olive.

Zippia is a job-search engine I’d never heard of, until I came across their just-released survey called The Food Each State Hates the Most.  Zippia’s road to its results is rather unscientific.  First, come up with a list of forty-odd foods where people tend to say, “gross”.  Then, use Google Search Trends to determine which of these foods people look up the least.  Finally, group the search results by state.  After that meandering highway, here’s what you get:

    (Click image to enlarge)

I think Zippia produces these surveys as a clever way to attract customers.  Didn’t work for me – they just insulted my taste buds!  Thirteen of fifty states claim the olive as their most hated food?  Two of those states are California and Georgia, where the lion’s share of America’s olives is grown.  I’m already suspicious.

Not a pile of tires

I’ll grant Zippia’s survey this.  Most people I know don’t care for olives.  They don’t like the look or the smell, and even though they’ll admit to olive oil in their salads and heart-healthy recipes, they’ll still deny any affection for the fruit.  Yes, I said fruit, not vegetable.  Doesn’t that make those little sodium balls a bit more palatable?

The rest of the survey, I can buy.  Anchovies shouldn’t swim anywhere near a pizza (good call, America’s Heartland).  Washington and Oregon residents probably sat next to me in elementary school, overdosing on bologna sandwiches.  Eggplant, ick.  And beets… beets… I’m almost sixty years into this world and have yet to acquire the taste.  Check back with me in the next life.

If the Zippia survey is to be believed, I live in a state where turkey bacon is our most hated food.  Really?  We just bought several pounds of the stuff last weekend at Costco.  It’s not so bad.  On the other hand, olive oil and vinegar stores are trendy around here.  Most markets have an olive bar adjacent to the cheeses.  Meats and breads have been enhanced with bits of olives for years.  And for the really fancy, serve a tapenade with your crackers; a French spread made of finely chopped olives, capers, and anchovies.  Okay, so tapenade’s probably not for everyone.  But I like it.

I developed a taste for olives as a kid because my mother kept tossing them into her casseroles.  Before I knew it I was eating olives as a snack (and what kid hasn’t done the “wave” with one on each finger?)  One regrettable afternoon I downed a whole can of the large black ones before discovering my mother intended them for one of her recipes.  Believe I went to bed with no dinner that night.  At least my belly was full of olives.

[Side note: The only member of my family who likes olives is my daughter.  Maybe I should’ve named her Olivia? I did have a childhood crush on Olivia Newton-John.]

Not “monster eyeballs”

As if you need more proof of my love of olives, you’ll always find several cans in my pantry.  The sliced ones go into my pizzas, salads, and tacos.  The diced ones go into my omelets.  The whole ones sneak onto vegetable trays next to the carrots and celery (when my wife isn’t looking) or I just down ’em by the can.  And their green siblings with the red pimentos jammed down the middle?  They go perfectly with chips ‘n’ dip in front of the TV.

Step aside, America.  Spain produces more olives than any other country.  Italy and Greece aren’t far behind.  It would be appealing enough to live on the sands of the Mediterranean, growing old on their uber-healthy diet.  But also having trees of “America’s Most Hated Food” everywhere you look?  That clinches the deal.  I just might take my O-Love overseas one of these days.

Some content sourced from the Zippia.com article, “The Food Each State Hates The Most”, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Athens of the South

Ever been to Nashville?  It’s a lot to see and do in a city that still feels like a small town.  My brothers and I visited Music City for the first time two weeks ago.  We toured the historic Ryman Auditorium – the “Mother Church of Country Music” and former home of the Grand Old Opry.  We walked through the massive Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  We drove down “Music Row”, the area of town with hundreds of record labels, publishing houses, and recording studios.  We even sampled carefully-crafted moonshine (if you believe there is such a thing).

66-colossus-1Yet, none of these sights prepared me for another of Nashville’s attractions that frankly deserves more press.  Just southwest of the downtown area in Centennial Park, rising prominently on manicured lawns, you’ll find a full-scale fully-authentic reproduction of the Parthenon – that most famous of ancient structures on the Acropolis in Greece.  If one can laugh and be in awe at the same time, that was me.  A reproduction of a temple built in 438 BC?  That’s the last thing I expected to see in Nashville.

66-colossus-2Here’s what’s left of the original Parthenon (or “O-Parthenon” if you will) – which I spent significant time studying in architecture school.  It is considered the most important surviving building of the classical culture of Greece, and the finest example of Greek architecture.  It is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the Greeks considered their patron.  If you visit O-Parthenon today you won’t see much of the original structure, thanks to a mid-1600’s explosion of a munitions dump inside the building.  Attempts to restore O-Parthenon have failed for lack of funding.  Ironically, back in its heyday O-Parthenon was used as a treasury.

66-colossus-3Nashville’s Parthenon (“N-Parthenon”) is the complete restoration, and it is a colossus.  N-Parthenon is 200 ft. x 100 ft. with a surround of 70 columns.  Inside its main space you’ll find a massive statue of Athena, rising 42 feet from the floor and gilt with more than eight pounds of gold leaf.  A likeness of the goddess Nike standing in her right had is fully six feet tall.  Pictures don’t do justice to the scale of N-Parthenon.

The origin of the Nashville Parthenon is almost as impressive as the building itself.  Nashville’s Centennial Park was the site of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, a celebration of the state’s 100th year in the Union, including dozens of pavilions, restaurants, and large-scale carnival rides.  Prominent within the Exposition was the Parthenon, which was surely a nod to the “Athens of the South”.  Nashville earned that nickname in the 1850’s for the city’s establishment of several institutions of higher education.

The Exposition Parthenon was built of plaster, wood, and brick; not robust enough to last beyond the year of the celebration.  But the cost of demolition and its popularity drove a movement to reconstruct the building in concrete – authentic to O-Parthenon to the last detail.  N-Parthenon was completed in 1931.  Athena herself was added in 1990.  Appropriately, N-Parthenon contains a wonderful collection of photographs and descriptions from the Exposition.  Makes our county fair look like small potatoes.


There have only been two other attempts to replicate O-Parthenon since its creation 2,500 years ago.  The Walhalla Memorial in Germany (above, left) was built in 1826, but the completed structure is merely a nod to the architecture of O-Parthenon and much more about the distinguished people in German history.  The National Monument of Scotland (above, right) was also built in 1826 – go figure – but abandoned three years later due to lack of funds.  Take your pick; I say N-Parthenon beats “G”-Parthenon and “S”-Parthenon in a runaway.

Any visit to Nashville should include some aspect of the city’s rich history and allegiance to the music industry.  But add the Parthenon to your agenda as well (especially if you think you’ll never make it to Greece).  Oh, and per the sign, leave the wheels at home.


Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.