I seemed to luck out a few months ago when one of our Canadian papers ran an article on a book about Olive Oil. I was immediately excited since I love Olive Oil and was wanting to learn more. I had already heard from a few sources that much of what is on the supermarket’s shelves isn’t 100% olive oil or is really low quality not fit for consumption (lampante oil) so I was instantly intrigued by a book promising to expose this part of the industry to a bit of light. I contacted Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks near Granville Island in Vancouver, reserved a copy that was on order and had the book in my hands in a couple of weeks.
I took a long, long while to read this book but I truly could have finished in about 2 days. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a fascinating read. I simply realized early on into the book that I wanted to savour it. I decided along the way to only read it while I was at my coffee shop in the mornings on weekends as a way to relax. Then of course the usual ‘people watching’ kicked in as did chatting with other regulars and many mornings there was very little reading actually taking place.
“Extra Virginity”, written by Tom Mueller, takes the reader into the fraudulent world of the Olive Oil Industry. You’ll learn about the history of olive oil, it’s cultural and historical significance, different ways it has been used in the past, how it was milled and other interesting bits but most importantly, Tom talks about the dark side of the industry. Most of what is available to us is either not olive oil or it is rancid. Companies, especially the big guys, are cutting olive oil with lower quality oils in order to save a buck while still continuing to slap an Extra Virgin Olive Oil label on the bottle. Other times, olive oil is rancid but they have used methods to deodorize olive oil and colorants to make it look the way we’ve been trained to think it should. We have been fooled into believing that a gentle or light olive oil is the way it should taste but this simply isn’t the case.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are a number of high quality products on the market but you really do need to do some research to ensure that what you are buying and consuming actually is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I’ll use that term lightly because really, extra virgin doesn’t have any real meaning these days which you’ll soon realize once you read “Extra Virginity”.
Tom’s book was written with such passion and dedication that you can’t help but be excited about this issue. One of the things that I loved most about Tom’s writing was that he describes the people that he’s interviewed with such respect and honesty. His way of describing them really makes you feel as if you’re meeting them too. You get a sense of who each person is and that you’re there right along side of them to listen in on the conversation.
I can not say enough about this book and honestly, I was a bit sad when I was finally finished reading it. If you haven’t already read it, stop into your local bookshop to pick up a copy of order one online.
Here’s the link from Amazon.com: Extra Virginity. It’s about $15 USD at this time which is a pretty good deal.
Here’s the link for Amazon.ca: Extra Virginity. It’s around $17 CAD.