Oil & More
The awareness of healthy attributes of extra virgin olive oil, and the increasing importance given to its quality over the last few years has led to a number of interesting books and websites on the subject. Here in this section are references to some of these.
The very successful Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller (2012: Atlantic in the UK, Norton in the US) is still a useful source of information. Tom wrote a very revealing piece in The New Yorker a few years ago about the olive oil industry and its fraudulent practices, and his book (despite the cute title) is more of the same plus much much more: history, interviews with olive growers and oil makers all over the world, health aspects and so on. The sub-title says it all: ‘The sublime and scandalous world of olive oil’. It is very well researched and well worth reading, and it is hard to imagine that it will be bettered for a long while.
Here are two other books in English (there are plenty in Italian of course), although they are a little dated now.
- The Feast of the Olive, by Maggie Blyth Klein (1983: Aris Books), deals with some of the history, technology and growing (in Tuscany in particular) but is mainly a compendium of recipes.
- Olives: the Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit, by Mort Rosenblum (1996: North Point Press), has more history and reports from olive-growing countries in the Mediterranean area (and fewer recipes) than Klein’s book. It is an eloquent, sometimes irreverent account of a personal quest to get to the heart of what olives and their oil are all about.
In 2015 Luigi Caricato, a very experienced writer on and connoisseur of olive oils, produced in italian the Atlante degli oli italiani (2015: Mondadori). This gives an extensive picture of the olive-growing and oil-producing areas of Italy, and the maps are fairly easy to understand.
There are several annual guides to extra virgin olive oil. The Slow Food movement publishes its Guida agli Extravergini (only in Italian) and the Gambero Rosso puts one out as well.
There is another important guide to olive oils, not just Italian ones, edited by one of Italy’s leading oil experts, Marco Oreggia, and Laura Marinelli, Flos Olei. This not only lists selected producers in the main olive oil-producing countries but also provides a wealth of information on olive growing and oil production. It comes out each year and is bilingual (Italian and English).
The following web sites may be of interest. Any suggestions for additional sites are most welcome.
comune.cavriglia.ar.it – Information in Italian about our local municipality.
montegonzi.it – Information, history etc in Italian and English about our local village.
officinadeisapori.it – This site is run by Legambiente, one of Italy’s main ecological NGOs, and deals with more than just olive oil (in Italian).
oliveoiltimes.com – Full of interesting articles on olives and oil from all over the world.
oliveoilsource.com – This is a very comprehensive California-based site: sales, information, you name it.
kitchenambition.com – Covers a wide range of subjects such as cookware, recipes and ingredients (including olive oil).