Olive oil has been soothing
the skin of the rich, famous (and not-so-of-either) since
ancient timeswhen being a virgin still meant something.
Its been cultivated for 5,000 years, give or take a
few centuries. In fact, some say that the olive may be the
oldest tree on Earthwhich, if true, means that Eve
must have given Adam a not-quite-ripe green olive instead
of an apple. This might explain why, when things arent
going well, we say, "Life is the pits" as opposed
to "Life is the pips." Then again, it might not.
Around about 3,000 B.C., the olive tree
began to propagate itself west from its native Asiafirst
to the Middle East, and then, via those intrepid Phoenician
seafarers to southern Europe. Speaking of Phoenicians,
its a known fact that they were descendants of Atlanteans,
as was Mr. Noah of biblical flood fame. What did said Mr.
Noah do when he wanted to find out if the crisis had passed?
He sent out a dove! And what did said Mr. Dove do? He brought
back an olive branch as a symbol of peace and hope,
two human attributes of which we are big fans; although
not the particular favorites of our bipolar poet name Charles
Baudelaire (nor, it seems, of most folks who were begat
by Noah and his namesakes for generations thereafter in
the Middle East). Are you catching our drift here? Good.
Can you give us a clue where its leading? That would
be a big help. Thanks.
Over the years, the mystique of olive
oil grew by leaps and bounds. Moses excused men from the
military if theyd agree to cultivate it. The oil
lit the lamps of sacred temples including those inhabited
by revolutionary Maccabees who proved that a little can
go a real long way.
Meanwhile, over on the the northern
side of the Mediterranean, Athens was being named for the
goddess Athena, who changed civilization by showing the
locals the benefits of using oil that wasnt greasy
(sic). She planted one of the trees on the rocky promontory
where the Acropolis later rose.
Olive oil was first used for light,
heat, food, and medicine. But, before long, folks started
slathering it over their skin and shampooing it into their
hair with reckless abandon. After bathing in olive oil,
our classical ancestors would remove the excess with a
special scraper. After that, all bets were off.
The Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates,
even called olive oil "the great therapeutic." His
most famous quotation should read. "First do no harm.
Then do olive oil."
As the years wandered aimlessly along,
early cosmetologist recognized that the abundance of glycerides
and fatty acids in olive oil make it gentle enough for
use on even sensitive skin, and its anti-oxidant properties
take your breath away when it comes to making skin look
more glowing and youthful.
In more modern times, of course, Popeyes
girlfriend was named after it (even though she spelled
it wrong), Oprah undoubtedly promoted a cookbook that used
it, Martha Stewart suggested people do things with it that
wed prefer not to discuss, and now it is the preferred
ingredient in all manner of body care products
lotions, soaps, fettucini dolio
you name it!
Which reminds us of those pesky virgins again. To tell
the truth (as we like to do from time to time) extra-virgin
olive oil is more commonly a food product because taste
is the primary criteria. The olive oil used for cosmetics
is chosen for fragrance, consistency, and density.
The Provencal provenance of olive oil
skin-care products dates to the Middle Ages. In the brief
periods when folks werent raping, pillaging, and
burning each others villages (in the name of various
dukes and deities) intrepid orchardists had the unmitigated
gaul to cultivate massive plantations along the Mediterranean.
Today, olive oil is so important in southern France that
it is treated like the very best wines. Aficionados pride
themselves on the great varieties of subtle flavors and
consistencies that can be coaxed from the fruit during
Baudelaires new collection of
olive-oil-based skin care products has been developed,
formulated and blended by our friends at Provence Santé under
the name Jardin de lOlivier. It includes luxurious
and natural bath, body, and skin care products all incorporating
high quality olive oil and a light, distinctive fragrance
that evokes some of our favorite flora of Provence
artemisia and lemon, punctuated with tarragon and oak moss
accents. Slather on! (And go in peace....)