Saturday, October 30, 2010

It is olive picking time...that means olive oil. "probably the best oil in the world."

I have spent most of my life not giving olive oil and olives much thought. Being Greek, they were on the table at every meal. My parents came from a fishing village in Asia Minor, fish were important, I guess they had no olive trees, so I did not hear anything about the romance of the olive tree.

That changed radically when we started coming to Greece regularly. We would see these large green cloths on the ground under olive trees and people in the tree and on the ground “combing “ the tree and the olives being gathered on the cloths. I was still not entirely into the olive tree mentality.

We retired to the Argolida, home of the best olive trees and the best oil, not only in Greece but also in the world, according to the locals. I am use to hearing that, about everything, oil, wine, fish, their kids, everything ”best in the world.”

The humility of the Greeks is one of their most endearing qualities.

This time of year is the olive picking time, major topic of conversation at the coffee shops, olives and local elections. The rain was good, too much rain, the mayor is a “malaka” the guy running against him is a “bigger malaka”, this year will be good for the olives, a good crop, not as good as two years ago. Back and forth, but even a bad crop will still make the best oil in the world, that stuff from Kalamata and Crete is junk.

The truth is that this is an amazing area for olive trees and has been famous since ancient times, with trees hundreds and even thousands of years old, maybe they are right about the quality, I am not sure it is the best in the world but it is pretty incredible.

We planted olive trees, but not enough for oil; we do prepare the olives for eating though, maybe not the best in the world, but pretty good.

Early in the year is the pruning period, it is an art, the branches are cut to open the tree up to the sun, and they say a bird should be able to fly through it. Every three years or so they prune them very severely, you suddenly see trees that seem to be just a trunk with a couple of branches; they seem to have overdone it. Those trees in a couple of years are full and gorgeous, and full of olives. The trees are amazing, beautiful shapes, so strong, and properly looked after they will give fruit for thousands of years.

The best part is going to the olive press, fresh oil, bread to taste it with and some wine. We all stand around and make sure we get our oil, all of it. Those guys are fast and some oil that belongs to you always seems to disappear.

It really is wonderful, olives that you brought, transformed into extra virgin olive oil, the same thing that has been going on for thousands of years.

I also like the qualifications of the oil; it is all dependent on the acidity, extra virgin, virgin, 100% pure.

I wonder what the difference between extra virgin and virgin, can you be purer than pure, I guess you can if you are olive oil. Sunday we go to the press with some friends and their olives: the oil will be great, I know it. “ The best oil in the world” especially if it is yours.


  1. My parents are trying to coax me and Kat to over to Evia to do our picking this year; 155 olive trees! Our 'lathi' is also the best in the world :)

  2. I worked that oil and I know it's good!

  3. Maria, you and Kat should go, at least to supervise

  4. Bring oil and we will compare, to see which really is the"best in the world'

  5. The amazing things I can learn from your blog. Here I thought that Olive Oil was Popeye's girl friend. And she was extra virgin. Now I know the truth. As long as you are an olive expert, maybe you can explain to me something I've always been confused about. Why are some olives black and some are green, why do some have red stuff in them and some have pits and is it true that you get up oily in the morning??

  6. Keep the humor in your blog buddy.
    Very funny comment.