Bottled Harmony

For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.

olive oil tiltlYears ago, I decided to ease into reducing my ecological footprint by choosing one thing that I use regularly and could purchase locally. I decided on olive oil which I used at most meals and had already become a self proclaimed connoisseur of various brands. I did a quick internet search and found Temecula Olive Oil which met my criteria of being within 50 miles, and where the olives were grown and processed in sustainable orchards.

After several years of ordering from their website, I made a pilgrimage to their store in Old Town Temecula across from a saloon. I grinned when I discovered hitching posts on Main Street. At the bar inside the store, I sampled varieties of olive oil, olive oil mixed with basil, and then mixed the olive oil with balsamics—my favorite being the Fresh Basil olive oil mixed with California Pomegranate vinegar.

Tip: Expert olive oil samplers eschew the bread cubes and sip the oil straight. Bread can alter the taste.

I’ve visited the Temecula Olive Oil ranch in Awanga multiple times, hand picked the fruit and observed olives milled onsite, the air pungent with the grassy scent of early harvest oil. No pesticides used—small dexter cows are sent through the rows to prune low hanging branches and fertilize the soil with their offal. The acidic pulp produced from processing the oil is used in weed abatement.

In my quarterly packages from the company, I receive bottles of freshly harvested oil—some grassy, sharp early reserve oils rich in anti-oxidants, others with the buttery flavors of late harvest. Some of the oil are limited editions—one an early harvest Gethsemane is still my favorite, produced from local trees grafted from those in Israel. If you’re in the store, please ask Tom to produce more of that oil—I haven’t seen it since that first bottle. Till then another limited edition Temecula Valley Blend is a reasonable substitute.

When I can’t make it to Temecula, I stop at a local store in Fullerton called Taste It which features olive oil and balsamic vinegars from the Mediterranean. The proprietor Tim Heide is usually on hand, no longer an engineer enslaved by aerospace, but living the dream seeded in the years he lived in Europe. Although not in my ecological footprint, I’ve fallen prey to his white balsamic vinegars, especially the bergamot orange/lime white. Ooh la la!

While in La Jolla researching Indelible Beats (the second Abishag novella), I discovered the We Olive shop and found their blackberry balsamic vinegar mixed with a Meyer lemon olive oil makes a wonderful breakfast salad dressing.  The visit also inspired a scene in the novella.

Olive oil has been likened to unity between brothers or in another translation—harmony. Beyond its health benefits, I’ve actually measured improvements in strength before and after consuming olive oil. It’s the one thing I guarantee is on my plate breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Along with mindful eating and reducing my ecological footprint, I enjoy knowing the origins and the characters behind what sits in my pantry. Picking up an olive oil bottle or shaking drops of balsamic on a salad evokes these stories, harmonizing my meals sweetly.

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About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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4 Responses to Bottled Harmony

  1. Kaye Klem says:

    Michelle, Your knowledge of olive oil is amazing. I think food cooked in olive oil tastes far better than in regular cooking oil. I discovered how fantastic potatoes browned in olive oil tasted when I visited Greece years ago. Those glorious potatoes–cut into chunky wedges and deliciously evenly brown–were served almost everywhere we dined in Greece. And it’s healthy! Olive oil for salads, yummy. For everything, as you say. I’ve even used it in cakes–no difference in baking sweet things. Now I know where you get your knowledge displayed in your mystery set in an olive ranch–or is it farm, or plantation? –which so enriches your story. Refresh my memory of the title… Is it finished?

  2. mlknowlden says:

    Thank you, Kaye. The unfinished book is called Olive Tomorrow. I will be getting back to it! I love your memory of Greece–it made my stomach rumble.

  3. dayya says:

    Very nice! You make me want to renew my membership with Temecula Oil Company! Fortunately, there’s the Seal Beach store near me. d:)

  4. Pingback: Dimethyl Silicone , Oh So Tasty! |

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