Sunday, December 31, 2006
Why I really wanted to be there
I've read about olive oil and it's various methods of being processed. I had some idea what the smell of an olive mill might be (surprise, it smells a lot like olive oil). Seeing oil flowing into a barrel for the first time, though exciting, I could visualize in my head. But seeing an olive or an olive tree, or feeling the resistance of an olive as it's plucked (well, milked is the more proper colloquialism) from the tree, or smelling the soil and feeling the texture of an olive leaf--I didn't have any book education on that or any connection with that through my sensory exploration of the world's olive oils. Everything I had read said that most of the quality of an olive oil is determined by how well the olives and the olive trees are treated. No matter how carefully picked or how quickly pressed or how well cleaned the press, if the olive one puts in the mill hasn't been raised well, the resulting olive oil won't be stellar. I knew Pasolivo's oil was stellar, so I was excited to experience the grove with my hands and nose and eyes.
By the way, the colloquialism is milking because you treat the branch of the olive tree like a teat, pulling gently from the top and squeezing at just the right pressure as you pull down so that the fruit will pop off as you pull (as well as a few leaves and branches which mainly get separated out later). No beating, no shaking, no shimmying of the tree and branches. In the end, the olive branch is giving you it's milk and should be treated with the care and respect of a mother's teat in order to give the best that it can.