Let me start by saying there are no coincidences. This has been a mantra of mine for many years now. People you “happen” to meet … restaurants you “stumble across”… ideas that “come out of the blue”…. none of these occur by chance. There are threads – both visible and invisible – that connect everything in our lives.
A few weeks ago, G and I were grocery shopping in Palma. We were standing in front of a selection of local olive oils and trying to decide which one to get. As with wine, I was drawn to the quirkiest of labels. We decided on a bottle with a black and white picture of a smiling man, that also happened to be produced in the area where we live. Wouldn’t you have chosen this one, too?
So this morning, we went to view a house for some friends who are looking to buy. On the way, we passed a yellow sign that caught our attention. When we left the house, we decided to go investigate. I suspected it was an olive oil farm, and indeed it was!
Son Mesquidassa is not just any olive oil farm, it is THE largest plantation in Mallorca. There are 150,000 trees!! We drove down a long road flanked by said trees and arrived at a beautiful, modern building. The parking lot was empty, the front door was locked, but there was a sign that said “Open” so we waited for a minute and a lovely woman named Maria came to let us in. She very graciously proceeded to walk us around and tell us about the facility.
“You are very lucky,” she said. “We have finished production for the year, but a farmer has brought a truckload of olives to be processed.”
As she led us around to the back of the building, she told us that every part of the olive was used. The mill was equipped with a system to recover all the pits from the processed olives to use as biofuel for sale, and also used to generate heat and cold in the facility. And the remains of the process are added back to the soil as compost. At the back of the building, a man was shoveling olives out of the truck and onto a conveyor belt. From there, they went into a room where the pulp is separated from the pits, then mashed up and heated with hot water until the oil separates and is moved into another room full of enormous stainless steel tanks. We even got to see the oil being bottled in special edition clear bottles.
As Maria led us back into the showroom, we asked if we could buy some of the oil. “Yes of course,” she said. “I will get my colleague to help you. I am in charge of Human Resources.” She had given us a wonderful, informative tour and it wasn’t even her job to do so!
As we waited for her colleague, we perused the shelves of olive oil, and guess what bottle we found? Yep, the same one we had bought in Palma. Miguel arrived and told us about the different bottles, and he even poured us three samples to try. They were all delicious, and we bought several to take home.
Oh, and we found out that the man in the photo is a friend of the owner of the plantation, a Mallorquin singer named Tomeu Penya. We listened to his music when we got home, and I can say it’s as fun as the photographs! Here’s one of his songs, “Un Pinyol”.