Olive Oil Harvest Project: Day 1

The crisp waft of fresh green unpolluted serene smell of the morning air always brightens any day doesn’t it? Perhaps I savor my “dark” early mornings to a point where I treat it more like a cult like ritual approach that none other in their right minds would understand. Or maybe the giddy feeling of “accomplishment” dealt by waking up early, and knowing my days will be longer…seems a bit too personal. How ever one would see the brisk early morning hours, it’s nothing compared to a productive perspective. All this rattling and weird fuzzy sensation about the morning delights may not make sense to most of us, but for an individual who relishes and depends on the perfect early A.M. for their day-to-day concoction of labor is priceless. Fisherman and farmers alike, live for the early break of sunrise. Knowing when the fishies are active and when and where to get the right spots on time are all crucial for a productive time out in the sea. And for farmers alike who’d need to harvest specific crops under specific process/procedure are all under scrutinized time in order to maintain the qualitative characteristics their crops are capable of producing from the beginning to end. As obvious as I may be inferring, I’m talking about the process of an extra virgin olive oils.

A day in life of harvesting season is quite relaxing for those who are able and patient. From sunrise to sunset, a full 12 hours time of laborious activity, absorbing the sunlight, and depending on which season, the formidable climate. From pulling, pushing, climbing, dragging, lifting, and often times picking tasks are not the only thing that gets tiring and dull, but combining that with a restricted time limit could be an overkill for a days work. Or in a more urban atmosphere think of it as a waiter/ess taking multiple orders, and busing tables, over a medium-sized establishment, all by themselves. It’s difficult no doubt, but not impossible. Your mind keeps moving just as your body, and you need to make every second count and avoid any unnecessary movements. You have to organize, prioritize, and capitalize your execution so to dish out/in the food on time, put a smile to that face and earn that extra tip, but more importantly for that satisfied customer to come back for another day.

Waking up near 6 in the morning, I jump up and prepare for the day. Loud and obnoxious, I wake up with a bewildering sound incomprehensible to any known man and soon orchestrate a synchronized tangent of unorthodox sounds of all available nearby objects capable of making the tiniest of a “squeak” even a rat would wake up to. To my surprise, swiftly and quietly my humble host poofed right into my room like a magician throwing me off my rhythm, half staring at me with his bloodshot hangover look the other half still asleep, and orders me to go back to sleep. A moment of silence, then he nods to the window and just leaves. Confused to what just happened and trying to make sense as to what he meant, I looked out the window, it’s raining. Like an excited child waking up on Christmas morning to check what big ol’ parents, I mean Santa, has brought me this year, I was soon disillusioned immediately like a guilty verdict for a crime I did not commit. Nervous, sweaty, and excitement had all withered away to a realization that mother nature deemed today as a no go. Nothing else to do, I strip down and hit back the sack…(To be continued)

 

 

“TEASER”

note:
Rain may yield great for plants, but come harvesting time, it’s the nemesis of all olive farmers second to olive fruit flies. (and for some, their significant other[s])

When it began

Aside


It was at nice, quiet, serene, home on a 14th floor of a 25 floor apartment building, on the outskirts of a big city, not so much suburbia, but not pollutant enough either. Hear yelling across the room and I must have thought I have done something terrible. Next thing I know, my face was flooded in my own tears, stuck on a seat looking down and ahead reaching over with my mini-fork aimed at ¼ of a tomato. Still in tears, with an ugly face forced out of me, I take a bite out of the tomato chewing deliciously making sure I get every single juice out of the bite size fruit. Savoring the sweetness of the juicy tomato, I almost forgot the reality of my salted face pruning. Then I noticed I just experienced two worlds simultaneously; eating and sadness (also known as reality). But it wasn’t hardly until I decided to study abroad in Italy with the goal to stuff myself with good eats. For obvious reasons eating a certain cuisine from it’s origin is the best place to grasp the authenticity of its flavor[Authenticity, Just a Myth?]. However, on occasion we are ever more surprised by an unexpected dish; a dish we thought we knew.

But back to the story in Italy, one of the foods that surprised me the most was the taste of olive oil. I had the opportunity to take an Italian cuisine class during my term and was even more fortunate to have my instructor growing and harvesting her very own olives. It was first through helping out at her cottage (where the olives were located) did I get a chance at tasting the raw form of such a perfectly harvested young extra virgin olive oil.

Timing my visit perfectly, lunch was near and immediate (tip: always bring a big appetite to an invited eat-in). Everything on the table had had some form of olive oil mixed into it. Not only was the taste very structured and distinct, but as conversation grew I was ever more fascinated by how frequent it was used. [In Italy there’s about 12.35kg per capita in annual consumption in comparison to 0.56kg in the US]

Anything you can think of that uses cooking oil or butter, is stunningly interchangeable with olive oil. Oh yes, cakes, brownies, cookies, muffins, ANYTHING. Well maybe not butter itself (maybe?), but you get the idea.

The raw taste of recent harvest olive oils are undying. Like a taste of raw milk just milked seconds from a cow, it’s incomparable to the watered down products available at your local grocery stores. Initially I thought my host had added some sort of spices to the oil to give off the aromatic and subtlety smoothness that went unbelievably well with just a piece of lightly toasted bruschetta which was further glorified with a dash of salt. Oregano, rosemary, dill, paprika, lemon juice, anything? Nothing. Garlic? Nahda, it was just the plain yet intricate taste derived solely by the oil itself. Still in awe I didn’t let the conversation evolve away from olive oil. Locked on and bombarding with questions after curiosity, a “simple” eat in turned out to be another extra credit brownie points ;D As others’ jaws were gnawing on the food set in front of them, I kept mine closed so I could concentrate all my focus on catching every little bits of details and wavelengths. This was the very first time I gained interest in hopes of bringing a simple product back to the states; better known for its utter excess of choice…..