Yesterday dawned bright and clear in the area around Lake Iznik: a perfect day for picking olives! The season has just begun and will continue from now on till March.
I was staying in the charming little town of Iznik on the shores of this lake, about 90 km as the crow flies from Istanbul and presumably for us too as we took the crow’s route via the fast car ferry service to Yalova.
It’s a very fertile area surrounded by hills and with the autumn colours, very pretty indeed.
Iznik is the ancient Niceae with its history dating back to 325 and the adoption here of the original Nicene Creed.
In Ottoman times during the 17th Century, Iznik acquired a reputation for its fine pottery and tiles which adorn many of Sinan’s beautiful mosques eg the Blue Mosque and Rüstem Paşa in Istanbul.
I was there for a couple of days with friends intent on photographing the area and I realised that with all my experience of our village, Assos, where everyone also has olive trees, I had never witnessed a mass harvesting such as this.
It was obvious from the colourful nets spread under trees everywhere that the harvest was in full swing. The weather was favourable so the villagers were taking full advantage. It’s no fun to be picking with an icy wind blowing round your legs when you’re perched on top of a ladder!
Actually, it’s a backbreaking job with husbands, wives, entire families and sometimes hired labourers all out there getting in the harvest. The quicker the olives are picked, the better it is.
Did you know that olive trees have an average lifespan of 300-400 years and some even longer?
I think these are the best olives I have ever seen and tasted. I can hardly believe I’m saying this after eating Assos olives for years but these are splendidly huge and meaty, the size of perfect black grapes, and this year they are hanging on the branches in abundance.
Later we stopped by in town at a shop specialising in olives, olive oil and related products eg soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions and bought a few things.
Click here for a post about beautiful Turkish olives!