Oleotourism is the form of tourism associated with olive groves and the production of olive oils. This allow a deeper understanding of the the culture surrounding the world of the olive groves and participation in multiple activities focused on olive oil ranging from gastronomy to accommodation and health treatments.
Dr. Simon Poole, an MD practicing with a particular interest in olive oil and an advocate for the Mediterranean diet, has participated in the Jordan Olive Product Exporters Association (JOPEA) and Hospitality in Health (HIH) second edition of “In Celebration of Olive Oil” from 7 October to 26 November 2021.
We began by asking Dr. Poole about how he first knew about oleotourism in Jordan.
He says, “he had been there a few times and always loves the visits… His travels in Jordan made him understand how the olive tree is rooted in history even earlier than when the pheneocians took it to the rest of the Mediterranean, olive oil production dates back thousands of years. Early farming in the fertile crescent from which sprang so many civilizations were all in the Levant where the earliest farming and production of olive oil for nutrition, religious, and cosmetic reasons took place.”
“I understood that the home of olive oil, which is at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, is in Jordan and the surrounding areas.”
“The most memorable experience is traveling across the desert in 4×4 vehicles and the destination was the most beautiful grove, which was at an oasis where the desert had been reclaimed, and hundreds of thousands of olive trees were planted,” he said. “The activities were seeing olive trees in a place that used to be a desert, being given warm hospitality on-site, seeing the olive groves and tasting the oil that won competitions around the world.
After the desert grove, they returned to Amman and had the finest of meals with the oil from renowned chefs who prepared traditional Jordanian food, which is not so known outside Jordan. According to him, “sharing food is the most beautiful part of human existence.”
You see the history and the modern-day cultivation, and you combine it and share food.
He is so happy to see the increasing commitment to produce world-class olive oi. It is a great experience to see the perfectionism that is necessary to produce the most healthy oils – liquid gold – and to be able to taste it. At one mill, he was able to taste 4 to 5 varieties!
Jordanian producers “are becoming more in contact with their history and roots and celebrating that and are working really hard to produce some of the finest oils in the world that compete with international producers. Evolution is exciting,” he says, “taste and health are aligned. With its defining characteristics of bitterness and pungency, which is very healthy and rich in antioxidants and polyphenols.
Dr. Poole mentions, “this is part of education for people coming to Jordan to understand the historical context, present production, and future of health and nutrition by including Jordanian Olive Oil in their daily lives.
He recommends oleotourism in Jordan to “foodies and anyone interested in history but you can bring all things together so anyone who wants to explore and learn a bit more about cuisine and history.”
With olive oil being a central part of a healthy diet, people are learning to recognize some healthy profiles of oil only from the taste. The history of humankind is so connected to olive oil because it has been there for millennia. Great olive is made through deep connections and chefs also play an essential role in showing how to put it all together to bring out the best of olive oil.