Olives

Mort Rosenblum, Author North Point Press $25 (250p) ISBN 978-0-86547-503-8
""Olives,"" writes Rosenblum (The Secret Life of the Seine), ""have oiled the wheels of civilization since Jericho built walls and ancient Greece was morning news."" In this delightful and comprehensive account, he tells us about his travels throughout the Mediterranean countries, where the fruit is grown, in search of the olive's history and horticulture. What sparked his interest were some ancient half-dead olive trees on his property in Provence that he wanted to restore to health. The more he learned, the more fascinated he became and now, a connoisseur, he can discriminate between the nuances of different fruits and their oils, some of which are so delicious that they are drunk like liqueurs. Rosenblum's account is rich in details of the characters of growers he met in communities throughout the Mediterranean, where much of their joys and sorrows center around the crops. He learned about the care and nurture of the trees, discovered that the most desirable oils of Crete are now purchased in bulk by foreign companies who mix it with others, making the pure product difficult to find anywhere but in the communities where the trees are cultivated; and he explores the national and international politics that affect the trade. A paean to the olive tree, this is an enchanting excursion. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
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Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-86547-526-7
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