Foraging has been all the rage for some time now but in many countries people have been doing it forever. In Lebanon, people go out in the spring to pick wild greens they call sliq and in Sicily, where I am right now on Mary Taylor Simeti‘s farm, they pick whatever is edible and use it one way or another. It was my first time there in February and I was surprised by how glorious the landscape was with almond trees in full bloom and the fields covered with yellow flowers, some of which are edible cavolicelli flowers with a slightly peppery taste. As I was admiring and tasting them, I suggested to Mary that we try them tempura style. She liked the idea and we picked some, together with sage leaves, a green cauliflower and a pumpkin to do a mixed tempura.
Only one day since my return from Sicily and I am already missing it. I think I will retire there, preferably on a property like Mary‘s, in the middle of fabulous countryside with gorgeous views wherever you look and organic fruit and vegetables to pick whenever you want. I had invited Amy to stay with me in the casetta I had rented and she cooked the most delicious meals with our freshly picked produce while I tinkered on my computer, mostly working. But it was Mary who cooked our last dinner (barbecued artichokes). We had planned to have it outside but it was a little chilly, so, we barbecued in Mary’s fireplace. But first we had to pick the artichokes and not longer than an hour before we needed to cook them according to Mary. Read more >
I may not have been to an olive harvest before but I have been to an olive press, including the ancient ones in Volubilis near Meknes, Morocco. However, the one Tonino and Mary use near their farm has nothing ancient about it. In fact, it is very modern with the process completely automated from when the olives are poured into an underground chamber (through a grill to catch the last of the branches) to when they are sucked onto a conveyor belt ferrying them to a washing chamber then onto another conveyor belt which carries them to the press. The process is fascinating to watch even if not very aesthetic, at least not at Sole che Sorge whose lovely owner in the picture below doesn’t seem to have much concern for a photographer’s worry about nice backgrounds to her pictures!
I am just back from California where I was hoping to go to the olive harvest but I never got the time. A few weeks earlier I was in Lebanon and I had intended to do the same down south but I was there too early. Thank goodness I went to Sicily in between, and in time for the olive harvest at Mary Taylor Simeti‘s beautiful farm near Palermo, Bosco Falconeria. Believe it or not it was my first ever olive harvest despite having grown up in Lebanon and Syria, both lands of the olive. Mary reckoned that the reason must have been that I was at school during olive harvest. She may well be right — we only went to Rechmaya where my uncle had his olive groves in the summer.