History Of Olives
What can’t we say about olives? With a profound history among Mediterranean cuisine, they come in a wide range of sizes, colors, flavors and presentations—from artfully cured table olives served up with specialty cheeses and antipasti to the briny black olives featured on pizzas and salads. If you love the olive as much as we do, you’ll want to eat up all the info you can on these glorious gems.
The olive is undeniably one of the most celebrated fruits of all time. Its taste, virtues and mystique have been praised in various religious texts and have been extolled by philosophers, poets and writers down through the centuries.
Did you know that the olive tree is one of the oldest cultivated trees on the planet? Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean landscape of present-day Turkey, this ancient tree has had a great impact on all of the important Mediterranean civilizations for 4,000 years or more. These prized trees have offered food, medicinal potions and nourishing oils.
The oldest olive tree that we know of (over 3,000 years old) can be found in Crete, where it still bears fruit today. There are about 800 million olive trees growing on Earth, and no less than 500 different cultivars, or varieties. That’s a lot of olives!
Still, the olive tree itself is somewhat modest given its noble history and reputation. It isn’t terribly large, exotic looking or fragrant. But while nothing about it is particularly breathtaking, for Italians and most Mediterranean people, the olive tree’s presence is almost holy. In fact, in ancient Greek mythology, Zeus pronounced Athena the victor in a competition because it was she who had bestowed upon mankind the most useful plant of all: the olive tree.
So how has the olive tree come to survive thousands of years to bring us its remarkable fruit?
The olive tree is nothing short of a miracle. It is one of the hardiest trees in the world and can live, in some instances, for a thousand years or more. Known for its longevity, the olive tree is strong and able to adapt to its surroundings. They can survive salt water, thrive in most types of soil, adapt to almost any sunny climates and endure periods of low temperatures.
Because of this, it is called “the tree of eternity,” symbolizing peace, victory and the endurance of life. The olive tree has always invoked feelings of vitality and good health, which is just part of its legendary presence throughout history.
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