A family member is an olive oil zealot. She keeps an olive grove and produces small quantities of olive oil to perfection. She has a mastery over the process from beginning to end and makes no consents to comfort. She spares no cost and redeems all favours during harvest in November. For these few days she turns from the easy-going and agreeable person she is to a warden of iron feast – and that we can attest. This year even our toddler picked his first olives, to his great delight and everybody else’s.
But the result is proportional to the determination. After same day harvest and pressing the zealot turns modest, but with the content of the old master who knows that her work cannot be bettered.
For those of you who (like me in the past) have not tasted fresh cold pressed olive oil of the best quality, let it be known that the distance from the stuff you get even in the good delis is similar to that of an ok wine to a French grand cru of Bordeaux. Especially at the beginning it tastes more like the slightly bitter juice it is, unlike the blunt industrialised well-intended gentrified bottled products.
The proper way to sample the fresh olive oil is on boiled potatoes. After we have appreciated the new production we like to taste it on fresh white sourdough bread with a little coarse salt and dry oregano. What a great way to appreciate the phrase ‘the salt of the earth’; the Mediterranean tradition is full of olive trees.