The day I’ve been waiting for arrives. It’s time to go to the frontoio, the olive press, to witness the oil extracted from the olives. Later will come the first taste, the gift I’ve anticipated since I arrived in Italy. I’ve dreamt of this for the past three years of lockdown.
Though I have witnessed this process before, I’m always excited. Each frontoio has a slightly different process.
Today we go to the frontoio near Pelago, Marchesi Frescobaldi owned by the Frescobaldi family.
We must book an appointment in advance. It’s a bit like getting an MRI in Canada; your appointment can be at 2:00 AM and even then, you might consider yourself lucky to be seen at all. We’re thankful to be scheduled for the late morning.
Because we are early, we are invited to walk around this Frescobaldi estate. It is only one of their many properties in Tuscany.
Now it is time to begin the main event.
First, the olives are weighed, then sorted by a machine that removes the leaves, stems, and sticks.
Then the olives are washed.
Next, the olives are crushed until obtaining a coarse paste that contains peel, pulp, and the pits. The oil is next separated from the paste.
The “sansa” contains waste material and can be pressed a second time because it still has oil residue. Though it will never be cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, I suspect it is what is exported to Canada and America. Many of my friends do not like the “real” oil because it is spicy and different from what they are used to.
The pits are processed to become fuel for stoves or food for animals.
At last, we see the liquid gold running from the taps and we take our oil home in stainless steel canisters.
We rejoice by making fenttunta; grilled bread rubbed with fresh garlic and then sprinkled with the new oil.
I am full of gratitude for my Italian friends and the life I live here, if only briefly.