WHAT’S IN YOUR E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil)?
In October, 2006 Italians in Turin were enraged. There was an imposter at their kitchen table disguised in the form of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This had all the makings of a scandal. Don’t laugh, it could happen at your dinner table too, and the problem is more serious than you would think.
According to the BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7360434.stm), some olive oil manufacturers were purchasing cheap oil and colorants from the US and mixing it with olive oil, chlorophyll and beta-carotene to give it just the right shade of green. You know what they say “don’t mess with an Italian and their Food!” This was sacrilegious! 25 were arrested due to the complaints lodged.
According to Olive Oil Source (www.oliveoilsource.com) Americans are the world’s third-largest consumers of olive oil, and 99 percent of olive oil sold in America comes from abroad, but only 18 percent is extra virgin olive oil. As a matter of fact, some California chefs have filed a class-action lawsuit against companies whose products mislabeled extra virgin olive oil. 10 major producers and distributors have been named in the suit:
4. Filippo Berio
8. Rachael Ray
9. Safeway Select
This led the USDA to revise their olive oil standards in 2010. It had not been revised since 1948.
There is a trustworthy and flavorful product out there. This week I received a present in the mail from my friend Giuseppe @ Azienda Zottopera. Inside were 3 tins of his fantastic Grand Cru Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has the value of liquid gold, tasting peppery with a hint of flavor from the tomatoes growing nearby. When I was in Sicily, I visited Villa Zottopera; they have been producing olive oil for 350 years.
He had no idea what a gem he had, up until 2008, and especially in the wake of the olive oil scandal. Prior to that, you could basically walk up to the farm with your own container and they filled your jar from the vats. Last year, at his second competition, he made a clean sweep at the California Olive Oil Championship, where he won the coveted California gold medal. Wow! That was when Giuseppe realized that his olive oil was the best! He knew his was the best for his taste and area, but did not know how it compared to the rest of the world.
You can meet the King of Olive Oil, on our trip to Sicily.
Please contact Chef Jacquie at (610) 506-6120 for more information on the available culinary tours.