|From Branch to Table by Francestina Reams.|
|Scritto da Francestina Reams|
From Branch to Table by Francestina Reams.
Good Food, Good People & Good Times recounted from a little town in Sicily, the beloved Cianciana
Prelude to the Harvestht.......
Firstly let me introduce the Olive............When I look at the gnarled old olive trees and think of how many years (hundreds in some cases) they ve been witness to change, to what was waged, won and lost, to the generations that have come and gone, enduring a constant battering by the elements, withstanding both good and bad times.....well.....i'm in awe that they continue to stand senitial over the ancient land and remain so resilient.Seeing them stand proud and upright ( well almost) and beautiful with their roots ever more deeply entrenched, regardless, sets a fine example of victory over adversity, and it helps me to keep a sense of perspective. Any problems I may have suddenly pale in significance, by comparison. Peace and hope Reign once more.If life gives you lemons......make lemonade........
Just a thought.......
Well our adventures last year took us to the home of the delightfully charming mostly amusing but darn right hospitable Ferdie and Judy, a lush garden villa set on the outskirts of the town oozing with colour and ripeness all abundance of self propagated flowering specimens complete dare I say with a Mulberry Bush, an English nursery rhyme tale of dance and worship, sadly we did nt all prance round it but Baba the heartfelt family poggles (my own word for dog!!) finds it a great place for an afternoon snooze.
Ferdie and Judy's hospitality is legendary, eating some truly epic meals (I'm terribly sorry Bacchus but the Pakistani Curry hails the highest notes of palatable pleasure giving far presidency over pizza any day) though Ferdie your pizza still are the best in town :-)
But most importantly our adventure began seeing how first hand this green elixir is made from their own collection of Olive trees.
Before we started though Judy copiously made the tea and Ferdie began to unfold instructions as to events contained within the three day procedure.........
We all layed nets down all around the trees that we would work on, and each tree varying in size and vigour, we would tease our hand held rakes, which looked reminiscent of giant afro combs, we frizzed the leaves vigorously as the olives popped to the ground. As we danced around as they fell with green precious applaud, we fondly reencountered stories of days of summer, picking strawberries in local farmers fields back in England and of course what Judy might cook-up for lunch!!!!
Once each tree had been lovingly manicured and the olives sank into the net like a Trapani's fishermans bounty catch of sardines, we gathered the hoard and hailed them carefully hand by hand into the brown sacks......and once tree had had its precious harvest and the sack had been collected up they are ready for milling....so all hands back on deck and after three long days later, we proceeded to the local Olificia where they go through there ultimate spotlight transformation.
The mill is just down the road, so we all piled into Ferdies Renault Estate and trundled down the wriggly road to the town olive mill for the show. We were all quite nervous, for we had become affectionate friends with each and every olive and wanted to tell the 'Olive Fairy' to sprinkle tender loving care upon their green delectableness.
First they are thoroughly washed and crushed to produce a paste. Olives contain both oil and water, and the paste is slowly mixed up to allow the oil to come to the surface and separated from the water. The temperature of the paste is always kept below 27 degrees, a process called 'Cold Pressing', So if you ve ever wondered what that meant, know you know.!!! ;-) It results in a lower yield of oil per kilo but retains a superiority.
It's a very satisfying moment when you see this beautiful, fresh green oil pouring into a vat, and it smells absolutely glorious by the way, and it was quite a emotional outburst complete with standing innovation of a production well orchestrated........so with emotions on high it was back into the Renault with the loot and back to the casa for a serious taste test.The finished oil, is a deliciously creamy and peppery hue, with a clean, grassy aroma.We all felt very proud to have played our own little parts in the miraculous 'Cianciana Olive Harvest Festival, and the creation of this exceptional oil, and from now on every time we have a secret supply of the green eleir with everlasting memories.Our grateful thanks to the lovely Ferdie and Judy and dearest Baba, for letting us help.......with the Grace of God we'll be back this year to top up that vat .....xxx Enjoy xx We
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