Summer Reads: Olive Odyssey

Olives in a bowl from Shutterstock on*Olive image from Shutterstock

Today I’m sharing something a little different for this week’s “Summer Reads“. Not a cookbook (although there are recipes) and not a memoir (although it has elements of a memoir), it’s the story of Canadian rower, cyclist and explorer Julie Angus’ sailing journey around the Mediterranean on a quest to learn about the history of the world’s most influential fruit: the olive. “Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World”  has received critical acclaim from the Wall Street Journal, Vancouver Sun, and CBC’s The Next Chapter, amongst others.

Julie and her husband Colin have certainly had their share of adventures (you can see them documented in films and books here) but the “Olive Odyssey” was the first to include their then 10 month-old son, Leif.  Angus was inspired by her Syrian family and their intimate relationship with the olive and set out to travel the Mediterranean in a sailboat, collecting samples from ancient trees in an attempt to determine where the first olive tree originated. Along the way, Julie and Colin (and Leif!) become olive oil connoisseurs, eat a truly Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, witness the harvesting of olives in Greece and the first press of the season in Crete where they also visit what might be the world’s oldest olive tree. The result is a comprehensive history and biography of the olive but also of a magical journey from Spain to the Middle East in a sailboat, told with honesty and humour as the young family contends with fierce winds, relentless waves, and a baby that wouldn’t sleep!

Olive trees on Shutterstock on* Olive trees image from Shutterstock

Julie and Colin’s adventures provide a unique viewpoint on a pantry staple – and one we most likely don’t give much thought to (what is a “light” olive oil, anyway?). The book is an eye-opening look into the mass corruption and counterfeiting of olive oil production, but also a charming collection of anecdotes from the small communities at the heart of the olive’s development around the Mediterranean.  Knowing the origins of our food has never been more important than today, in our increasingly “food-aware” culture. “Olive Odyssey” takes this one step further, offering history, science, culture and cooking lessons woven into one delightful travel tale.  The book also includes some of the recipes Julie and Colin learned along the way as well as tips for hosting an olive oil tasting party (yes, it’s a “thing”!) and a myriad of resources for those who wish to delve further into the Odyssey.

Want a sneak peek of the book? Check out the Olive Odyssey Trailer from Julie on Vimeo.


Olive Odyssey cover image on



Buy Olive Odyssey on Amazon or Amazon Canada or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.





Olive Odyssey – a worldwide giveaway!

Thanks to Greystone Books, I have one copy of “Olive Odyssey” to give away to anyone, anywhere in the world.

How to enter:

There are 2 ways to enter (maximum of two entries per person for the duration of the contest).

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what “odyssey” you’d like to go on (olive or otherwise!) – what food would you like to spend time researching?
2. Tweet the following message: Enter to win @angusadventures’ “Olive Odyssey” from @greystonebooks @eatlivtravwrite (worldwide!) Details: then come back to leave a second comment letting me know you did.

Eligibility and contest rules:

– Open to anyone, anywhere.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on Sunday July 27th 2014 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email Monday July 28th 2014.


Disclosure: I was provided with an electronic copy of “Olive Odyssey” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so.  All opinions 100% my own.


Please note: The product links from Amazon and are affiliate links. If you click on these links and purchase the product I have linked to or any other product, I will receive a tiny percentage of the sale price.


Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me is by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickr or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwrite (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.

18 thoughts on “Summer Reads: Olive Odyssey”

  1. I would love to go on a pomegranate odyssey. I’d still be travelling throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, which I think would be amazing!

    I also tweeted about your giveaway.

  2. I’d love to go on a Cheese Odyssey… Or Wine, or Olive, or anything! I love food and traveling! Experiencing a culture through culinary is one of my favorite ways to learn about them!

  3. I have always been interested in the Olive, but in the interest of diversity – the Cocoa bean! I would love to travel to Venezuela or Ecuador and see the process from plant to chocolate. It’s fascinating!

  4. *sigh* Olives, they could be dinner tonight, with some good cheese, vino and bread.
    What beautiful pics. I’ve got to get this book for my husband!

    My dream “odyssey” would be sailing around the Mediterranean for the rest of my life!
    I’ll tweet about your giveaway. Thanks, Mardi!

  5. Most definitely a Cheese Odyssey for me…..maybe with a lil wine thrown in 😉

    In a magical world that has no time limits or limited vacation breaks I would be travelling the Loire and Auvergne regions of France by horse and cart.

    Oh cheese – my favourite friend 🙂


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