This is probably one of the books in which I’ve learned the most about something specific and so common as Olive Oil.
Turns out, Olive Oil is AMAZING and you might have never really tasted a real Extra Virgin olive oil.
I was very surprised to learn that most (in my case 9 out of 10) olive oils in a supermarket and almost any kind of store, are filled with lots of other stuff that is not, by definition, “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” as it should and as we think it is. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is quite a… misnomer, therefore.
Olive Oil is one of the few foods in which its quality is mostly defined by taste standards rather than ingredients; something like Wine for example. The way Olive Oil and most importantly the Extra Virgin ones are produced, leaves a huge gap for producers to differentiate their product by applying high end techniques and knowledge; the age of the trees, the way the olives are collected, the earth, everything will make a difference in the oil in the hands of skilled olive artisans.
In order for an Olive Oil to be considered Extra Virgin, it needs to be extracted from the olives within the first 24 hours from the olives being taken down the trees; the oil needs to be extracted from the olives without the use of chemicals whatsoever (for which most producers nowadays use centrifuges) and under certain temperature; the higher the temperature the worst the oil (usually below 27 degrees celsius). After that, it needs to follow certain quality criteria, which at the moment is not so strict.
A good olive oil is fruity, pungent, which is spicy on the through (who knew that?! and sometimes it is associated with “bad oils” by ignorant people, like myself 2 weeks ago…) and bitter. This, of course, changes widely depending on oils, just like flavor changes widely between good Wines.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil cannot be (obviously) combined with any other oil. But most of the inexpensive so called “Extra Virgins” that normal consumers like you and me buy, are stuffed with other kind of oils, from palm oil to cotton seed oil, in short, crappy, unhealthy and a dime a gallon cheap.
The olive oil fraud is considered to be worth more than the Cocaine “business”. Yes, you heard that right. It’s more economically sound to sell fraudulent olive oil than it is to sell cocaine.
And much, much more safe as well. Very few people have ever been caught or incarcerated due to olive oil fraud, plus you’re not really “hurting” anyone by putting other kinds of oil in a bottle that should have one of nature’s most amazing products. Kind off.
Olive Oil is the only oil extracted from a fruit. Therefore, you’re not really eating unhealthy, chemically processed oils, you’re eating the energy (literally) or one of the most resilient and widespread trees in the history of humankind.
Olive trees used to be connected with conquer. When the Romans conquered a new country or state, the army either brought olive trees with them, or they planted it in order to suffice their needs in the upcoming years since Olive Oil was used for a WIDE variety of things in the days of old. In Greece, olive oil was considered to be godly and sacred, it was the petroleum of that age.
But now, we just eat… crap. “Lampante” as italians called it. It is simply oil that should be used for nothing but to light up lamps, therefore the name lampante.
As the half Italian I am, I’ve been eating “Extra Virgin” olive oil my whole life. I was stunned and indignated by what I learned was nothing but an international stunt, one which no government or real authority seems to care about.
I went to one of the “best” supermarkets we have in the island (Malta) and bough the “best” Extra Virgin Olive Oil I found. It costed more than double of what I’ve been buying so far.
And let me tell you, what a difference.
The flavor is just unparalleled. It was bitter and pungent (traits of a real quality olive oil). The food have been so much more tasty.
I’ve never used so much olive oil in my life. And that, using an oil I’m sure is still not 100% Extra Virgin.
From now on, I’ll be buying olive oil only from trusted producers.
Did I mention there is like… A TON of research showing that olive oil is one of the best things you can eat to keep yourself healthy? No? well. There’s that too.
An amazing book overall. There’s a ton of into on this website as well: http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/extra-virgin-olive-oil