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What am I?

Name that . . . - for the answer scroll to the end
October 2001)

This long lived subtropical evergreen tree has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years, and recently some seeds have been uncovered in Spain that have been carbon-dated to be 8,000 years old. The tree is usually medium in height, about 25 feet, but some trees may grow to 60 feet. The are very long-lived, with some living more than 500 years. They are also very tenacious, sprouting back even if chopped right to ground level.

In order to produce flowers and fruit, the tree must undergo temperatures of 45 degrees F. for 2 to 3 months. The trees grow beautifully luxuriant in tropical climates, but produce no fruit. The small fruits can be round or oblong, dark purple and very bitter at maturity. The fruit is classified as a drupe, similar to the peach or plum.

Today the tree is grown in South America, the Mediterranean area, the United States, Australia and South Africa.

The product of processing the fruits was highly prized for soaps and perfumes. Cato tells us it was used as a weed killer and insecticide. Other uses have been as a lubricant for axles, a salve on chapped skin and on wounds, and a remedy for upset stomach.

One final clue from Lawrence Durrell: "A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water."

Chef James EhlerThis article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.

James is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel (both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North Carolina.

He is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia (five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit to James' food reference website which is a useful resource well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just click on their title:

The Food Reference Website
The Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida

If you want to contact James just email him by clicking here.

The answer : The Olive Tree

© James T. Ehler, 2001
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