9 February 2014

Olive oil in Turkey

Production  of olive oil dates back to prehistoric times in Turkey.   In the modern times, however, the consumption of olive oil in Turkey has been less than other Mediterranean countries.   And now it’s time for history to repeat itself, because olive oil is being rediscovered in Anatolia.
It would be such a shame not to mention Anatolia, if we are talking about olive oil’s history.  In fact, Anatolia has always existed as a part of olive oil culture, but the Greek side of the Aegean coast has been standing in the forefront.   And yet, the recent researches might change this land’s fortune on this issue.

The archeological excavations in Urla (a district of Izmir province in Turkey’s Aegean sea coast) revealed the 2500 years of history that belongs to Klazomenia archaic city.  Founded by the Ionians in the 10th century B.C., Klazomenia hosted olive oil production around 6th century B.C.  In that case, Klazomenians may be the first ones that used the technology of a continuous production system with stone cylinders running around a spindle to crash olives.  Klazomenia was surely the olive oil heaven for that time for producing and trading olive oil.

Well in Turkey, olive oil is not only used in cooking.  There sure are so many healthy benefits of olive oil such as being a beauty product but you’d be surprised to learn about the other uses of it.  Have you ever heard about the Turkish oil wrestling? It’s one of the most popular traditional sports in Turkey where the wrestlers cover themselves with olive oil before wrestling.  They wear tight short leather trousers called “Kispet” made of water buffalo leather weighing approximately 13 kilograms as they wrestle with their bodies oiled.

It’s common in all over the country but the most famous tournament called “Kirkpinar” takes place in Edirne.  It’s like a big fair with music and celebrations which continues until the morning.  The history of oil wrestling tournaments dates back to the Persian era around 1065 B.C.  and yet men still continue to find the perfect ‘balance’ for winning in this very hard and interesting sport.  The 649th edition of historical Kirkpinar oil wrestlings took place at the end of June, 2010.  It went on for a week and, on only the first day, about 500 kg of olive oil was used to cover the wrestlers’ bodies.

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