Spring blossoms, Kalamata
March 19, 2023
ralo 2023 "Harvest Fresh" Pre-Orders: 2 days left!
This is just a friendly reminder that you have two days left to place your pre-orders and reserve the highest premium-quality olive oil for the year at discount prices.
You can place your pre-orders by going to the Products page of our Online Store.
We'll send you a "Last Day" reminder as well.
In the meantime, what follows is a reminiscence about wild oregano picking in Robert's village.
Robert & Deborah
AN EARLY MEMORY
My first smell-memory is that of fresh oregano. I was no more than three or four years old...
In the mountains of Peloponisos, oregano ripens in the latter half of June.
In rural villages in the 1960s there was very little money around and fewer ways of earning it.
One way was to gather wild oregano.
Entire families would roam the mountainsides picking as much as could be found. Everyone had their favourite routes and secret patches, passed down through the years, guarded closely and kept strictly in the family.
We would be woken up before the sun rose, have breakfast and set out with the first light. Our mother and older siblings carried the empty burlap bags, water and light snacks for the day.
We young'uns brought up the rear, careful not to fall too far behind lest we became food for jackals, lurking snakes or other wildlife real or imagined...
And so the uphill climb would start.
There was the edge of excitement and anticipation. When you start with nothing, the first appearance of something seems far away.
With the glee of finding the first patch we were reminded to take care not to uproot the plant but to fold the stem in on itself until it snapped free.
This way there would be oregano to pick next year.
After a while, our hands would be stained green and the smell of oregano eclipsed all others. For days on end it seemed, we would trudge up the mountain gathering until it grew dark or there was nowhere else to pick.
At the end of a seemingly-endless string of one tiring day after another, sitting with our suppers, our mother would sigh, smile at us and declare "I think we have enough now"...
Once picked the oregano would be spread out in the shade to dry. After a few days in the shade the oregano would be tied in bunches and hung until fully dry.
...first phase drying, laid flat in the shade
...second phase drying, again in the shade
Once fully dry the oregano would be stuffed into burlap bags.
The bags would be loaded onto mules, alongside of which was made the long trek of several hours down-mountain to a Sunday market where large export buyers gathered.
While the amount earned was a pittance, it gave our parents a tiny bit of cushion against the inevitable rainy days. With eight children, lack of cushion could be catastrophic or even fatal.
Whenever the smell of oregano enters my nostrils I am immediately transported...
...to a cluster of silhouettes, moving upwards in unison, leaning into the climb...