When you grow up eating bread and extra virgin olive oil made by your grandparents, when as soon as your mum stops giving you milk you are given olive oil, even before your teeth appears, not only olive oil becomes part of your diet, but you develop an addiction, an addiction to good extra virgin olive oil; it is almost like your body can't function properly without, exactly like a car could not be driven without engine oil, you end up adding extra virgin olive oil on everything you eat.
Eventually, over the year, the addiction has become a passion and a mission, a mission to spread the word of the many health benefits
of good olive oil, benefits that can help living a healthy life exactly like a good engine oil allows the car to last longer.
And when it happens that Italy produces the biggest variety of oils in the world, from the number of olive varieties
grown to the number of oils, it is like being a child in a sweet shop, sort of. Italian extra virgin olive oil is produced all over the country with a very few exceptions, from Friuli Venezia Giulia to Sicily, passing from Gissi, my native, minuscule village in the beautiful Abruzzo, my home sweet home, not far from where my grandparents had their own olive grove, now abandoned, with secular olive trees that have been left on their own, without the care required, but this is a different story and I am still hoping to rewrite it.
So, no wonder that as soon as there is an extra virgin olive oil fair, I have to go, but it is not a walk in the park, it is not fun and certainly not a holiday; coming back home to Leeds is the holiday. Attending an olive oil fair is challenging, even for someone like me that has an addiction, tasting olive oil from 10 am till 7pm, straight after breakfast, from dawn ‘til dusk, it is like running a marathon amongst Italian olive trees covering the whole of the country, and by the time you cross the finish line, you are so exhausted that you wonder if you actually run a marathon.
Two days, over 200 different olive oils tasted, and when I say tasted, I mean smelt and drunk from a glass, professionals taste extra virgin olive oil as they were tasting wine, ended up drunk on extra virgin olive oil. And the similarities with wine do not end there. Each olive variety produces a different olive oil exactly like the grapes and each olive oil is better suited for a type of food. Exactly like a wine. And then there is the mill and the time of harvesting, the earlier the better. These are all elements that not only affect the price but also the quality of the olive oil, the health benefits, and one of the main benefits are the polyphenols, the peppery taste, described by some as the “bitter” taste, a good extra virgin olive oil must be peppery or bitter. If not, the oil, technically described as “flat”, doesn’t have any of its health benefits, not worth its price, even if it is only a couple of pounds.
Not all oils possess the same quantity of polyphenols or the same peppery taste, there are plenty of delicate oils, but even the delicate oils have a light peppery taste, it is the mark, the signature of a good olive oil, next time you taste a tasteless olive oil, you are missing the chance to feed your body with healthy stuff, to live a healthy life. Discover our range of extra virgin olive oils