One of the three pillars of the Greek cuisine is the olive oil. Greeks are in love with the olive oil and it is them who consume more olive oil than anybody else around the world! Twenty liters per head while the Spanish who produce more olive oil consume 11 liters oil per head. Main concern of every Greek family is to store the olive oil of the year when it is fresh pressed. Fresh baked bread, feta cheese, tomatoes rinsed with olive oil is a very common quick snack or even a meal when we don’t have time to cook.
It would be a sin to leave Greece without taking with you some Extra Virgin Olive oil! Do prefer the organic or cold pressed olive oil, very low in acids and with unique, natural aroma. A dressing by itself for your salad or a perfect dip for your bread. There is also a big variety of olive oils enriched with natural aromas from herbs and spices which really worth to taste them.
The cultivation of the olive tree is spread all over Greece since ancient times. It goes back to 4000 BC! Greeks have always referred to their olive oil as “the liquid gold” of their country.
110 million olive trees grow in the whole country and Greece is the third oil producing country after Spain and Italy.
Other trees number their age in decades; the olive tree numbers it’s age in millennia. Symbol of immortality, perennial tree, strong and proud, resembles man in the resistance and defiance against the harsh conditions of the times. In Crete, one can admire the oldest recorded olive tree in the world, proclaimed as a natural monument. Although scientists can not be absolutely sure, its age is estimated between 3000 and 5000 years and still remains alive, fructifying until today!
The Municipality of Athens in order to honor the olive tree which used to be the symbol of Ancient Athens welcomed on December 13th 2015 the first centenarian olive trees, 800 years old, which were transplanted at the entrance of the Athens University on El.Venizelou street, a few feet from the Greek House of Parliament.
Greeks were (and are!) so dependent on the olive tree and it was so important to them that it has a dominant position in their history and their Mythology. The following myth is the proof.
Cecrops, the first king of Athens built this beautiful city at the top of a hill. He decided that have should have a patron deity who would look after the city and receive tribute from it. Two gods emerged as the primary contenders: the god of the sea, Poseidon, and the goddess of wisdom, Athena. Both gods would have to present King Cecrops and his citizens with a significant gift. First, Poseidon stepped to the highest point of the hill. He struck his legendary trident into the hilltop, creating a fountain of water. The citizens were thrilled, at first; however, they quickly discovered that the water was salty, as Poseidon was the ruler of the seas. Athena then took the place of Poseidon. She put her spear in the ground and it turned out into an olive tree. People were enthusiastic because they had the olives for eating, olive oil for cooking and lighting and wood for building. Astounded, everyone in attendance exclaimed, “Athena!”
So, if you visit the city of goddess Athena don’t miss the chance to enjoy her present to the city. Join our fascinating Food Tour, a journey through Greece’s rich culinary history and taste different kinds of table olives and olive oils!