Since the day I arrived in Jaén from the United States, I have been worshipping the local olive oil as if it were divine. My American roommate and I practically bathe in it; every week we go searching for the best aceite y tomate tostadas in town—but I still think the cafeteria at Jabalcuz has one of the best! So when the Jaén Department of Plurilingüismo offered a visit to la Cooperativa Oleocampo in Torredelcampo, we jumped at the chance.
We boarded a bus with 53 auxiliares de conversación from all over Jaén. The group was mainly Americans, but there were also many British, French, and Italian language assistants as well. Everyone was looking forward to touring the olive oil factory; none of us had ever seen anything like it before! We were accompanied by many local faces, including our plurilingüismo coordinators, the mayor, and the president of the Cooperative, Juan Carlos Gadeo. At the almazara, we learned about the harvesting, selection, and cultivation of olives here in Jaén. We then toured the inside and saw where the oil was pressed, stored, and refined. When we were offered crude olive oil straight from the giant metal tanks, everyone drank up. At this stage in the process, the oil was so green that it seemed to be glowing—but so tasty!
After we foreigners drank our fill, we went back outside to see some of the finer details. I was impressed to learn that the pits of the olives are burned for fuel, an energy resource definitely unheard of in the United States! We then moved to the bottling and packaging center, where the oil is transported in smaller tanks, put into its proper container, and then labeled and packaged for sale. We learned important things for the consumer, such as how buying olive oil stored in dark glass will help maintain quality. The oil from Oleocampo is distributed worldwide, but we were more concerned with the olive oil in our hands; for most people, the bottles we were given at our visit were empty by the time we reached home. It was definitely a fun and delicious day to be in Jaén!
-Alaina Ferretti, IES Jabalcuz Language Assistant