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Back to our roots..

In the past, the olive oil production process used to take place in small olive mills. These were not only workplaces, but also social life places. This is the case of our family-owned olive mill in Lastros, which was initially operated by the old Petras in 1870 and it kept until the middle of the 20th century by his grandson Petrogiannis, remaining intact ever since.

«Among the regulars in the olive mill was Petrogiannis’ brother-in-law, Kostis Fragoulis – Anteos. He used to visit the olive mill to “take a deep breath” and to hear the news. And of course, he wouldn’t miss the chance to set up amazing Cretan rhyming couplets, the so-called “mantiniada”.

Two of them remain vivid in family memory:

Petrogiannis mill is king of the hill

Olives you put in it and gold churns out the mill

And from Petrogiannis mill wonders do derive

Young men see degrees

Young women into a marriage thrive!

In the first “mantiniada”, he implied the exceptional quality of the oil (“gold”) that the mill of Petrogiannis produced and in the second that with the money from the oil, which was the basic local product, the villagers ensured education for their sons and good weddings for their daughters. (The village of Lastros was quite progressive though and education was provided to the daughters as well; but even more to the sons. Not to mention that in the frame of “artistic license”, even greater exaggeration is allowed.)

Of course, in the other mills of the village the same work was carried out.

But probably only the mill of Petrogiannis was that lucky to host such a great poet…

When many years later, in the 1990’s, the value of the Cretan diet started to get recognized, especially of the olive oil and first and foremost, based on numerous data, of the olive oil from Sitia, even though there are also other regions claiming to be top, Kostis Fragoulis wrote the following “mantiniada”:

Yet other places, I admit, produce good olive oil,

Though neither is like the one from Sitia

which is the best in the world”.

A few years later the olive oil of Sitia origin, was awarded, among others, with the first prize by the International Olive Council. This gave me the opportunity to remind, during the International Olive Congress that took place in Sitia, Crete, of that “mantiniada” by Kostis Fragoulis regarding the olive oil from Sitia and note thus, once again, the quote being confirmed: “the scientists crawl to the crest (of knowledge, of truth) just to meet the poets who have flown there1».

1 Extract from the book to be published: The Olive mill of Petrogiannis and its magic world, by Nikos I . Petrakis.

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