Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stories in search of an author...

Extra Virgin Olive Oil :: the truth & the fiction
Extra virgin oil comes from the first pressing. OK, but at the coop Gimmi and Sabina use, there is no second pressing -- 90% of the oil is extracted on the first pass. However, the oil is kept cool and isolated from air & light. The process is better than traditional pressing with a stone which exposes the oil to air, light as well as heating it. A visit to Frantoio allows one to see the traditional technique and have a decent dinner as well. They would probably allow photos. A second visit and photo shoot at the coop near Calci would allow an interesting contrast. Interviews with the wide assortment of people who show up to Shepperd their olives through the coop would expose some interesting, and passionate, characters.
Tuscans View the Visitors
In terms of sheer numbers, most people at the harvest are from Tuscany. What do they think of all the outsiders who step on olives, can't prune properly, and (probably) can't talk for all practical purposes? Sabina, with her insight into multiple cultures and deep language ability would probably make a fine translator.
Slow Food in and Near Pisa/Calci
Slow Food publishes a series of regional guidebooks. A survey, based on sample meals, of course, of what is available in the area would provide nice context.
Agriturismo in and Near Pisa/Calci
Agriturismo both a survey and critique would be interesting. Many so-called agriturismo operations are pretty thinly disguised tax shelters, etc. Are any of the farms nearby the real deal?
Organic, Local, Sustainable
How are Italians viewing those issues? Mariella would be a gold mine. She and Marco introduced me to slow food 7 years ago. [I'm forever in their debt.] She also has a family farm in Mezzano where we had a household reunion 7 years ago. This stuff is in her blood.
Italy and California
California Mission Olives vs. Tuscan?
Taste tests would be interesting. Might be fun to bring some oil to Calci. Comparison of techniques for growing, harvesting, and pressing might be more interesting. The economics would also be interesting. Are prices for quality California olives so high because the have to be? because upscale Marinites have lots of disposable income after they buy their yoga mats? Are California prices really higher than comparable quality from Italy?