Once upon a time … the mills of Mineo

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Agrippino Todaro, Leone Venticinque

italian_version6433_north_218x_transparent-b2After the olives were harvested, were taken to the mill said trappitu. There were many more now to choose from, both in the countryside and on, in the village. The crusher was chosen for several reasons: either for cleaning, or kinship, or because you thought it would steal less, or because the mill was at a place near the place of collection or home and there was not way to do with the load of olives. The mills were dark rooms without openings and to shed light you used the lumeri, the square tin lamp with four wicks in the corners, fueled by oil and suspended from the ceiling.
Then he made the way you came to the mill, with mules – said viesti – laden with panniers containing olives. Once at their destination, they melted the ropes – operation that was called sprisagghiare. Meanwhile, came the trappitari who helped unload everything. The olives were discharged into the camini, which in ancient times were of masonry containers with flap and were used to keep separate the harvest of each owner of olives. In times closer to us, the olives were put in crates or casciola.
When macinatina start, they took the olives had been deposited and were worn where the grindstone was placed. In ancient times, there was only one round of lava or granite stone, which could then be turned with the force of a blindfolded mule. Thus the grinding wheel wheel turned, crushing the olives with all kernels. There was near a factory worker named mastru di pala, that he was good enough to push the olives under the wheel, while it was in motion.
Having crushed the olives, the paste was put in coffe, the rope bags circular. Then he intervened the mastru di cuonzu, who was an expert to fill the coffe and place them in a stretcher once filled. So were trasportavate from one end of the mill to the press without slough off the pasta. Then the coffe were arranged one above the other, to form a stack in the press made of wood. At that point, many workers were given voice and pushed together. By dint of arms, the press was running out. By pouring coffe all the liquid, which was the water mixed with olive oil. There were mills clutching them twice and said they passed them a mamma e a figghia, that is the best oil from the first pressing and after the second, less valuable. The dripping there all in a container and, after a while ‘time, the oil had risen to the surface was collected. The operator had to be careful not to take well water, together with the oil. The fruit of much work and labors was placed in the zinc quartara, but before was measured with mienzu cafisu (about 10 liters), which in ancient times it was the unit of measurement for the oil.
At the end, before leaving with his oil, the owner of the olives had to reward the work of the crusher. Was a payment in kind, with a part of the product: a quarto for each salma of olives. The salma was a unit of measurement of the volume and every salma was equivalent to 32 tumuli. So it was paid the macinatina price. In addition to that, the owner also gave due to trappitari ie to the workers. They belonged to a tradition of oil pitcher – u sanfucale – and someone to generosity he left two or three, and then he could go on.
So many things were happening in the mill, which still someone remembers. Those who worked in the mill had a very hard and had to eat well, then the mastro di pala or the mastro di cuonzu said to the owner of the olives to bring a big plate – u ‘fanguottu – pasta or lasagna. The dressing was made with broccoli, grated cheese and chili. But it happened that among the workers, there were those who urged him to put more chili, na manciata supecchiu. There were others who liked the spicy little and then made sure that those who liked it were not eating less, and so the first was left more, to eat.
In the days of the most intense of the mill work, as there were no breaks because the work was slow and many were waiting to take the olives. So it happened that some very tired worker fell asleep somewhere inside the mill, over the sacks of olives or on top of the heap of nuozzolo, ie the pits squeezed and set aside. He not lacking those who meanwhile had always joking and simulated a beautiful scene, for fun. They took the lamps and oil were lit around the unsuspecting guy who was fast asleep. In the darkness of the mill, the scene looked like a dead man. Then they sent and called the relatives, as if it were really dead. Among the cries of despair of his loved ones, “the dead” would wake up. Those could not believe their eyes, while “dead” remained stunned and surprised, before he realized what was happening. With all these candles around and relatives to cry, could it really be that so suddenly without realizing, had gone already in the other world and was watching his own funeral?

“I remember when my father and my brother built a house”

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A story told by Agrippino Todaro

italian_version6433_north_218x_transparent-b2I remember at that time I was still small. always I accompanied my family in farm work. The land that we were cultivating was a bit far from the village, there was some way to go and you could not go back every day for the long journey. So it was that one time, my father made the decision that was made a dwelling place. We could have stayed there all week and even longer if necessary.
He was chosen a point, in the midst of the land that was slope. The hill protected from the cold north wind. After that, it started with my older brother to bring so many stones, collected in the surrounding area. Large and small, all were helpful and also freed the land for work with the plow. Continua a leggere