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Aubergine, eggplant, melanzane: they sound good in any language and, in my opinion, taste even better. These have been my favourite vegetables since I was a child and my mother used to prepare melanzane al funghetto alla veneziana, a kind of cold salad of marinated aubergine. Heaven. Italy is the largest european producer of aubergine and produces more than the whole of the USA. Another reason why it plays such a large role in Italian cuisine. And it’s in season all throughout the summer.

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focaccia pugliese

My friends Claudio and Filippo tucking into the focaccia.


This weekend, my friend Claudio was visiting from Venice. As you may have remember from this post, Claudio was born and has lived in Venice all his life, but his parents are from Puglia in the south of Italy. Claudio’s nonne are therefore a great source of typical recipes from the south of Italy, which always end up being delicious.

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Legend has it that two gods once competed for the patronage of an Ancient greek city, and the people decided to choose based on what gifts the gods would offer them. The sea god, Poseidon, offered them the gift of water, essential for life. The goddess Athena offered them the gift of a single olive tree. The people chose this second gift, and to this day the city has born the name of Athens.

This story shows the value that Ancient Europeans placed on the olive tree and its fruit, one of the oldest of European crops. Its utility, and versatility, has proved such that not only does it remain a staple of all mediterranean diets, but the plant itself represents prosperity and its prerequisite: peace.

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