A couple weeks ago, Kail and I joined our second CLO trip (after a great time visiting Mount Nebo and Madaba) to explore Jordan — this time to a family-owned olive farm in Ajloun, about 45 minutes outside of Amman. And this wasn’t just a tour among the olive groves. We learned how to pick olives and prepare them for brining, along with a little bit about the process to make olive oil.Second only to the amazing views from high among the hills in Ajloun was the amazing home-cooked feast the family prepared for our group of roughly 20 visitors. Olive picking is hard work! I don’t think we were quite as productive as more seasoned olive pickers are.Snack time.After maybe an hour of picking olives, our host family set out a huge pile of bread and dishes of yogurt dip, olive oil and spices, along with tea and Arabic coffee. Needless to say, I was a bit distracted from the hard labor of olive picking.Smashing olives.The tour was organized by Engaging Cultures, which organizes off-the-beaten-path tour packages centered around home stays, cooking classes and touring with locals. A big part of the culture in any country comes down to food: food preparation, culinary traditions, cooking and gathering with family and friends.For lunch, I had my first taste of Maqluba, a traditional Jordanian dish literally translating to “upside-down,” where meat, vegetables and rice are cooked in a pot and then flipped over when served. It was my first taste, and it definitely won’t be my last!We also had a chance to pack our own jars of olives to take home, and we were instructed how to prepare, wash and brine them for eating. It’s a process that takes one month at minimum to prepare, but we’ll soon have some hand-picked, home-prepared juicy olives to enjoy.First step: Picking.After picking our olives and filling our jars, we then dumped them all out on the ground and smashed them — enough to crack but not completely squish — with rocks, old-school style. A mortar and pestle? Too advanced.We refilled the jars with our newly cracked olives and changed the water with fresh water every 24 hours for three days. Afterwards, we (and by we I mean Kail) prepared a simple recipe for brining the olives (water, lemon, salt) and left them to soak for four weeks. We still have a couple weeks to go but hopefully they’ll turn out well!After picking olives (and eating a huge meal) in the hot sun, we were all getting pretty tired but we had one more stop on our Engaging Cultures experience: the local olive refinery, where olives are sorted, washed, processed and pressed into olive oil. It was neat to see and definitely a different experience one would get compared to visiting an American factory, where we’d be restricted to glass-separated areas and probably have to wear all kinds of safety equipment. Here? We could walk right up to the machines and peer over the sides, take as many photos as we wanted and (at least for the factory workers) smoke cigarettes the whole time.Have you ever picked your own olives — or other vegetable/fruit?