Olio di Oliva
Olive oil is not just olive oil here. Nope. You don’t just get standard and Extra Virgin. You get different classifications according to flavour, colour, aroma, regional provenence, use, food pairing…. Sounds a bit complex, like wine, right?
That’s because here it is exactly like wine. It is just as important and there are olive oil experts in the same way as there are wine experts… They do oil tastings in the same way as they do wine tastings… the plebs (that’s me) use bread to dip in their oil samples. The REAL connoisseurs drink it straight. They sort of slurp it a bit (apparently it mixes with the air and releases the flavour), hold it in their mouths then swallow. If you are interested (or if you don’t believe me!) then see this site for tasting tips and notes.
I have actually tried this and it’s not bad.
I still prefer it with bread though.
As you can imagine then, there are different oils for salads, for using on meat and fish dishes, for cooking, for using with bread… most households just have two types though, one robust extra virgin for salads and generally using “raw” and another lighter oil for cooking. I personally like to use the homemade oils for “raw” use when I can get them, either from friends or from the farmers market… they are often a rather unattractive green colour and can be cloudy if not filtered, but the taste is heavenly. Even just opening the bottle and taking a sniff makes your mouth water. For cooking, like most people here I use standard oil from the supermarket.
Olive oil has many health benefits of course, and it is touted as being one of the reasons that people living on the “mediterranean” diet are so healthy and live so long. Did you know it’s good for the outside of the body too? I use it on my skin and hair in the summer to combat the dryness caused by the sun and the sea. You can use it neat, as a mask for your hair or skin, or mixed with seasalt for a fantastic body scrub. Oh, and a great tip I got from my MIL… if you run out of eye make up remover, put some oilve oil on a cotton wool ball and wipe – it even takes off the most stubborn waterproof mascara. And it’s probably better for your skin than any of those man-made chemicals.
Now I’m off to eat my salad… dressed with olive oil and salt, of course.
PS Sorry I keep disappearing, sometimes it just gets a bit hectic, especially when I have guests.