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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995




Olives have been around the Mediterranean for a very, very long time. Said to have been created by from Zeus' daughter Athena, the olive tree has provided enough benefits that it may as well have been a gift of the Gods.

The use of olive oil goes back to around 6000 BC, according to a reference in the Iliad. And in the Odyssey, Odysseus crawls beneath olive tree shoots. Since our characters in these books were dealing directly with the Gods, this might not have been too after Athena struck the earth with her spear.

Lists of Olive Oil Mills in Provence departments

Olives for Everything

Olive oil is essential for Provencal cooking. Its healthy because of the high content of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat). Although the ancients probably new more about the practicality and taste of olive oil than about monounsaturated fat, but Roman physicians used it in their medicine.

Olive oil is also used for cosmetics, soaps, oil-lamp fuel and pharmaceuticals.

The olives are another essential ingredient of Provencal cuisine. The The olives themselves are served in a variety of ways, usually flavored with herbs or spices. A concentrated olive appetizer is Tapenade and of course neither Salade Niçoise nor Pissaladière could exist without olives.

Other famously Provencal dishes are various olive breads (pain olives), olive cakes (cake aux olives), some variants including ham or parmesan, and Brandade de Morue.

Olive leaves are used for medicinal teas,

The close-grained, hard olive wood is used in woodworking, and Provencal village markets offer olive-wood bowls, utensils, cheese platters and serving dishes.


Sources

    The New World Encyclopedia (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Olive) has a good article on olives

    And of course the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olives)