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Fruity, a Little Bitter and Spicy By Simon Field

Simon Field is the founder of International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes and an olive producer and trader.

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The African (Olea Africana) and European (Olea Europaea) olive trees are as horticulturally divergent as the black and white cultures in South Africa. Grafted, the two varieties form a vigorous and productive combination, a metaphor for the progress of black and white cultures in South Africa in rural and semi-urban environments.

The narrative follows the stories of those from Europe who introduced olive oil production to the Western Cape, and the black people who used the African olive for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.

The setting moves to a Cape Town restaurant where, Decameron-like over a series of lunches, the sons and daughters of these pioneers meet to tell their own stories in the post-apartheid era. The protagonist is a Zimbabwean émigré who fought in the civil war and returns committed to peaceful socio-economic reform using olive oil as the medium. The menu for the lunches covers traditional and ethnic cuisine and explores the preferences and aspirations of black consumers.

The disparate group of activists brought together represent all facets of the commercial and ethnic diversity of the Cape olive oil industry. Together they develop friendships and cooperate to bring commercial opportunity to the impoverished regional villagers and slums of the Cape Province. They place a distinctive black African stamp on the marketing and use of olive oil thereby challenging the norms of international olive oil trading and marketing, dominated by Europeans. Traditional and contemporary health attributes of olive oil are promulgated as an additional benefit.

The result is a merging of the olive tree and cultures, providing a prosperous industry and template for cooperation - a model for arresting the perceived socio-economic and civic decline in the Cape Province of South Africa and countries to the north.

African Olive is the second book by internationally recognised olive oil expert, producer and author Simon Field, following the publication of ‘Fruity, a Little Bitter and Spicy – a Producer’s Taste of the Global Olive Oil Industry’. Both books are available on Amazon.