TO THE FIELDS IN SEARCH OF LIQUID GOLD: THE DALMATIAN OLIVE HARVEST
Did you know that the Mediterranean Diet in parts of Dalmatia is inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage? Fresh, healthy, local produce and simple ancient recipes handed down by grandmothers combine to produce one of the healthiest – and delicious – cuisines in the world.
A cuisine whose key ingredient is gold. Liquid gold.
Dalmatians have been cultivated olives for millennia. Indeed, the oldest olive tree in the region is thought to be near Zastrazisce in eastern Hvar, estimated at 500 BC, around the time the Ancient Greeks arrived on the island.
And since then, olive cultivation, and the resulting olive oil, has been a way of life in Dalmatia and its wonderful cuisine.
November is a month like no other in Dalmatia, as locals answer the call of the olive groves for the annual harvest. Many families have their own fields and produce their own olive oil each year. Friends and extended family gather to pick the precious olives, catching up with each other after a busy tourist season. And tourists are more than welcome – any extra pair of helping hands are appreciated.
And there are plenty of rewards apart from new friendships, beautiful nature and a share of the olive oil. Feeding the workers is essential, and care is taken to put on a great feast to thank them for their efforts. A fine meal of grilled fish is usually the way, laced, of course, with olive oil and washed down with local wine.
It is said that a fish swims three times in Dalmatia. Firstly in the sea, then in olive oil during preparation, then in wine as it is consumed during the meal.
The olive harvest is a great way to experience this.