The Olive Culture of Les Alpilles
I was in the village café yesterday and felt an intense pang of admiration and jealousy all at once. An elder gentleman came up to the person sitting next to me and presented him with a large bottle of viscous, deeply green liquid and said “happy new year!” (in French of course). It was the unlabelled newly pressed olive oil from his family’s olive trees. How wonderful. I couldn’t think of a better seasonal gift.
The Capital of French Olive Oil
Here, in Les Baux de Provence, we claim that we’re the olive capital of France, along with neighbouring Mouriès of course. There is a small, healthy rivalry between us. We’re almost to the point of cheering when we see large trucks full of olives heading to our respective village mills at this time of the year.
That said, we have a rather lot of olives. And oh my, we do love them. You’ll rarely be given a glass of wine at someone’s house or a restaurant without the accompanying olives. Here in Les Alpilles region, we brine the green, young olives in a very simple brine with wild fennel. These olives, normally made with the Picholine variety, have a strong, fresh artichoke taste. Nothing like store bought, often chemically-treated olives.