Guest post by the best helper - Anna van der Kaaden
When do you get the chance to help a friend, in a beautiful place, while being fed delicious foods by a pair of amiable Italian parents. Yes, I took up Camilla’s invitation to go and make olive oil in Tuscany. What a wonderful experience!
It’s incredible how far a 2-hour flight can take you. Friday afternoon we arrived in Rome, but it almost felt as being back in Indonesia. Summer was still in full swing, so after we were thoroughly hugged and kissed by Camilla’s mum, she took us to the harbour for lunch. We enjoyed pizza, the sun and the sight of fishermen returning with their local harvest. A nice treat before the 2-hour drive to their lovely country-home.
The house is situated on top of a hill (a mountain according to Dutch standards) in the middle of orange-coloured pastures, olive groves, vineyards, pine trees, cypresses and patches of forest. Fresh delights, such as pomegranates, apples, aloe vera, mozzarella, sheep brie, goats cheese, zucchini, aubergine, kale could be found in the garden or at nearby farms. At night, the air was full of warm earth, cicadas, and freedom. In the distance some villages could be distinguished, their bundles of lights a flickering comfort in the dark.
But, no time for philosophical contemplations (apart from the occasional “I could do this for the rest of my life”-thought), because Saturday and Sunday were reserved for labour! While Camilla was showing the men-with-the-long-rakes which trees to attack, I was picking olives off branches and branches from between olives. Camilla’s mum was dividing her time between grass-raking, olive-picking, grocery-shopping, coffee-making and eventually… driving us to the oilery. Where, at around 6 p.m. on Saturday the 13thof October we saw our black and green babies disappearing into the rumbling tummy of the oil-machine.
What seemed to be a lifetime later, we could finally witness the pouring of our first batch of green gold. The oil was so green that I felt my body protesting to take a taste-sip. But what a shame would it have been if I had listened. Such fresh olive oil is something I had never tasted before. A reward well-deserved, if I may say so.
We returned home, three strong and independent women with 150 Litres of olive oil. Where more rewards were waiting, because Camilla’s dad made the most delicious grated-zucchini dish that I’ve ever had before. For the rest of my life, I will live with the knowledge that everything tastes better in Tuscany. No regrets!
Thank you, Camilla, for this wonderful experience, hopefully you can use my help next year again.
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