Food and Book Pairing: Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

The Book

  • Title: Love and Olives
  • Author: Jenna Evans Welch
  • Publisher:  Simon Pulse
  • Release Date: 11/10/20
  • Genre: Romance
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled. When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle. Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.

Love and Olives is the third book in Jenna Evans Welch’s series following Love and Gelato and Love and Luck. The first two in the series are easy, charming reads that inspire wanderlust, and Love and Olives certainly follows suit. I chose this book for the Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt, “A book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021.” The Greek-themed weekend my husband and I did last weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to start Love and Olives.

I have wanted to go to Santorini since the first time I read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Love and Olives made me want to go even more. The book is full of many descriptions of Santorini that made me want to get on a plane and head there immediately.

The buildings, churches, and walkways all glowed a stark white in the late-evening sunglight, broken up by the occasional bursts of bougainvillea flowers and the bright blue of the Greek flags.

A trip to a beautiful island is especially appealing right now in the middle of the New York City winter (especially as I am writing this during the third snowstorm of the month…)

From the first introduction to Theo in the book, I was immediately charmed by him. One of my favorite moments is when Theo jokingly tells Liv that he is going to call her “Kalamata,” after his favorite type of Olive. It is hard not to root for Theo and Liv to end up together from their first meeting at the airport when Liv arrives in Greece (this also could be because Dax, Liv’s American boyfriend, is so unappealing).

I remember seeing Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire in movie theaters in 2001, but I wasn’t aware of the mythology surronding the lost city. It was fun to learn more about the origins of the myth from Liv and her dad. I felt both Liv’s skepticism and the pull of Theo and Nico’s optimism that they would finally unlock the secrets of Atlantis.

Love and Olives is a quick and easy read that is perfect for everyone longing to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. (I also recommend Love and Gelato and Love and Luck for people with the travel bug). My friend, Caitlyn, also has some other recommendations for those people looking for an escape right now.

Food Pairing: Spanakopita

I have always been a big fan of Greek food, and I was excited to figure out the best pairing for Love and Olives. Spinach and feta are a big part of Greek cuisine, so spanakopita seemed like the perfect choice. This food choice also was an excellent continuation of our Greek-themed weekend.

As you have probably figured out, I love the freezer section at Trader Joe’s. I picked up some frozen spanakopita, and I am very glad that I did. The phyllo outside of the spanikopita was flaky and browned nicely. The spinach and feta filling was full of spice and flavor. The onion really came through, but the filling could have used a little more feta flavor. The pieces are the perfect size and made a nice and light appetizer.

The spanakopita complemented the moussaka and the souvlaki that we made last weekend very nicely. It would also be a nice addition to a Greek salad.

If you’re feeling ambitious and are interested in making your own spinach pie, try this family recipe from The Mediterannean Dish. (I made her souvlaki recipe, and it was excellent!)

If you are like me, you will definitely want some Greek food to enjoy while reading Love and Olives. And is there ever a bad time to eat feta?

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