The basic format for producing olive oil hasn’t changed for centuries: Squish, Drain, Enjoy.
We have the pueblo co-op olive mill just a few doors away from where we live. Each farmer can take in his crop, then take back all his oil; or he can sell some or all of the oil to the co-op.
The co-op fulfils state health requirements, but is in no way an impersonal shiny stainless steel behemoth.
Instead, during the months of olive harvest, a collection of rather faded machinery clatters away inside one of the old homes right here on our street.
The exterior retains the original facade and the house opens directly onto the pavement, and as I tend the roses and lavender and basil, my balcony becomes a dress circle for the theátre vive below.
The farmers bring their tractors and trailers to the door and wait casually in a typically spanish non-queue for the end product. Conversation ebbs and rises with comments about the current crop, greetings exchanged with passers-by, and the obligatory siesta break. The presses will run late into the night, but not ¡que va! during those lazy hot afternoon hours.
Inside, there flows a steady smooth stream of unhurried activity as the sole attendant moves from the intake to the press to the filters.
And the steady smooth stream of gold-green liquid, turning and twisting as it falls from the final press, catching the random rays of sunlight that sneak through the old wooden window shades.
No additives here, no chemicals, no flavour enhancers or dilutants. Just the pure clear original oil, nourished, formed and grown to maturity in each individual fruit.
*I have often wished I could send aromas by email or as an attachment: the smell of the olives pressing when the mill is in full swing at year’s end is amazing!
There is also an very old mill-stone olive press in a very old house in the pueblo. The house is still owned by the original milling family, and located – typically – down a narrow street, round some twisty corners and up a few flights of old stone stairs. It is no longer used for pressing, tho’ they open it up for visitors once a year at the annual ‘Festi del Oli’.
He is the one who sees us through the presses and the millstones. And He knows that if we hold fast to the truth, with no additives or dilutants, no flavour of the month extras, then what will come out of us in those times of pressure is a steady stream of the truth that has grown and matured, lit by the Light Himself.