Saturday, 10 April 2010

I'm in love with a machine...

Don't worry. That's not a cruel comment on Katie's borderline-obsessive replaying of the Lady Gaga Telephone video. Well, not entirely. Rather, it reflects the fact that if we're going to mill olive oil, we're going to need a mill.

So in between scrabbling around for freelance work and packing endless boxes of books for the imminent move back to the patridha, I've been firing off constant emails and phone calls to Italian mill manufacturers for pricelists (incidentally, why mills and not presses? Presses sound so much nicer, if only for images of me cranking away like an oily Caxton).

Anyway, now I've found the mill of my dreams: the Buonolio Top. She's a beauty, like a giant Dualit toaster, all brushed steel and 50s curves. Think Monica Bellucci in a remake of Metropolis. And unsurprisingly, she doesn't come cheap: in Corfu terms, she's worth about 5000 cups of coffee in the Liston, or 10,000 souvlakis in San Rocco square.

During a surprisingly wide-ranging chat with the manufacturer's sales rep, Dario- during which I fancied him leaning back in his swivel chair and gesticulating in mid-air as he spoke- I realised how much of a leap in the dark this all is.

What's your voltage in the factory, he asked. It affects the price, you realise, by around 1000 Euros?

I ummed and erred unconvincingly, shy of revealing that the factory is still the earth-floored stable of a crumbling village house and that we haven't quite got round to reinstalling the electricity yet. But still, we need to know the costs for the business plan, currently sulking neglectedly in my laptop like an unloved Tamagotchi.

There's a video on the manufacturer's website, showing Bonny in operation:

A white-coated miller (I bet he knows his factory's voltage) tips a basket of olives into Bonny's possibly eponymous top and waits contentedly as a thick rivulet of green oil pours out of her nozzle, along with an extruded turd of green olive cake. All this to an odd digital funk soundtrack, which made me mute the video in case the neighbours thought I was obsessively watching porn. But in a strange way, I guess I was...

Note: the above post was not sponsored by Campagnola, makers of the Buonolio Top. But if they'd like it to be, hey, you've got my email address Dario. Just saying...


  1. I like the balance between traditional quality and new technology. It was inevitable that the drudgery of peasant life would drive men to embrace the machine, but as the 20th century showed the love affair went sour. Mechanisation took command of us and we got wonderbread (
    This doesn't mean we go back to all manual labour and surgery without anaesthetics. It's the balance. Not letting the tail wag the dog. I like the look of your new machine. Good luck with it and best wishes and thanks for your comments on Democracy Street. Simon