November in Umbria means olives. It’s no surprise that Food Cultures professor Peter Fischer will be having a special food workshop next week – but we’ll wait until next week’s blog to talk about that. Olives mature in October and are left on the tree in most parts of Italy for another month to “dry out” (lose some of their water content) before being picked and pressed. Contrary to the images we have in our heads of old wooden presses, hydraulic presses are used all over Italy now, albeit by small, often-cooperatively owned operations. This month will also see the “Ercole Olivario” (Hercules of the Olives) a sort of Oscars of olive oil. It’s a national competition to decide which oils are the best, and it’s held right here in Perugia. We’re of course rooting for local olive producers, like the famous cooperatives from nearby Spello. In any event, now’s the time to go buy your bottle of freshly-pressed oil!