One of the reasons I like the ancient Greeks is because they were born story tellers.They had a story for everything: stars,trees,birds,animals,thunders, name anything and they had a tale to tell of how it came to be. So here is the myth about the most important of trees.
In mythical times, the story goes, when the city of Athens was first founded,two gods vied for the honor of becoming the new city's patrons.( It was more like which one would get all the nice sacrifices and ceremonies, but who am I to criticise a god?)
Athena was the one and her uncle Poseidon the other. Both wanted the new city as their own ,so up in Acropolis they held a contest of gifts.Poseidon-who was not only god of the oceans,but of horses and earthquakes too- offered to the city a spring of fresh water and the most beautiful war horse anyone has ever seen.
Athena struck the rock with her spear and an olive tree grew.
One version of the story says that Cecrops,the mythical first King of Athens-a creature half man half snake-chose the olive tree, so the city took the name Athens. Poseidon was-understandably-very upset. He cursed the city never to have enough fresh water and so it came to be.
Another version of the myth states that there was a voting. All men-impressed by the war horse-voted for Poseidon. All women for Athena. Athena won by only 1 vote. And men-being lousy losers...just kidding-removed the voting rights of the women of Athens...
It took us centuries to get them back ;)
|Olive trees in wall painting from Knossos palace,Crete.|
Olive trees are a blessing for the Mediterranean region since history began. They grow in the wild, "agrelia" we call the wild ones,which can survive the harshest conditions. People learned to care and improve the wild ones to make the most of the goddess's gift:
Olive oil for cooking, for lighting their lamps, for cosmetics and medicines, for offerings to the Gods.
Plus tasty olives to eat and wonderful slow burning wood for their fires. Victors in the Olympics were happy to be awarded an olive branch wreath and some tonnes of oil.
|Study of olive tree by Claude Monet.|
Sailors and fishermen still offer Saint Nicolas -the "heir" of Poseidon as ruler of the waves-a few drops of olive oil to keep the seas calm.
Aunties and grandmothers and mothers all over Greece cast a benevolent spell to disperse the "evil eye", by dissolving olive oil in a glass of water and praying.
( My husband's aunt Vaso is an expert :))
And to .... emmmm....honor one of the main causes of Greece's current dire economic state, bribing here is referred to as "ladoma" which means "to oil someone"!! Why? Because up to the '50s politicians and public servants were bribed by poor farmers with olive oil.Maybe that's why Greek politicians are so extremely healthy *sigh*.
Science discovered recently what the Med knew already: When it comes to heart and cardiovascular protection there is nothing better than olive oil. It rules!!No question about it :)
|Van Gogh's Olive trees with yellow sky.|
Olives can't be eaten as they are gathered from the tree. They are unbelievably bitter. So, they are gently cut,not deeply, with a small knife and then put into water for 10 days.
Every day, the water is changed with fresh ,until all the bitterness is gone.
Then they are left for a day in very salted water,then for 3 hours into vinegar. Keep a little vinegar,add some olive oil,put them in vases and voila!:)
The former is the easiest method,the one I will use in November for my potted tree's production.
PS. I read in a site taht olive trees are now grown in California!Yes!!