Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Olive pips (Κουκούτσια)

When I was living in New Zealand (I was very young; I remember sitting in the old kitchen before the renovations), my parents bought olives from the Italian market in Mt Victoria, Wellington. The olives were placed in a bowl, in the centre of the table, and we all picked them from there. One day, my mother noticed that the pips that I carefully stored on the side of my plate. 

"How many olives did you eat with your meal, Maria?"

I was quite young, but I already understood that for my mother to ask me how many olives I had eaten when she could plainly see for herself the pips at the side of my plate, she was going to scold me. I was also being raised in a Greek home where irreverence to one's parents was not tolerated.
"Seven," I gulped.

"Seven?" she repeated. "That's too many! You only need to eat three or four!"

To this day, I still remember this little episode. Since then, I never ate more than three or four (or five at the most). Olives were an imported - and expensive - product in New Zealand.

Now that I live in Crete, I don't have this problem, even when we don't cure our own. At 5-6 euro a kilo, they still aren't cheap to buy - no locally produced food really is - but there is a plentiful supply.

Olive pips on a plate - my own creation

Olive pips are used to produce low-grade olive oil (πηρυνέλαιο) while their by-product is still used as fuel for radiators.

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