• Greece

    The Lady of Aetolia

    “The #olive tree is surely the richest gift of heaven.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Ronaldson, 1813. My name is George Coundoussias. I grew up in the village of Gavalou in the region of Aetolia, #Greece. I’ve lived in the U.S. since 1978, but my family still lives in the town where I was born. I go back at least twice a year to visit family and take care of the olive groves that we have owned for generations. When I was growing up in Gavalou, there was an old, gnarled olive tree in the center of town. It belonged to a family named Malavetas. The entire neighborhood used this…

  • Recipe


    The olive tree is often referenced when describing a successful or safe outcome of a challenging endeavor. The safe return of Odysseus to Ithaca, under the watchful eye of the goddess Athena, is placed under the sign of the olive tree. In song V of the Odyssey, Calypso’s “olive-handle ax” becomes a marvelous tool for the weary and tired sailor who fells twenty trees to build what Homer, in a great understatement, calls a “raft”. On Scheria Island he makes a bed under two olive trees, “one wild, one planted”…”and covered himself up”. Finally Odysseus gouges the eye of Polyphemus the Cyclops with “a club of green olivewood hardened by…

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