This is what my family calls olive oil. As in all Greek families, this rich, green oil is taken very seriously. Twice a year, or so, we receive a container of oil sent direct from the “motherland.” We don’t joke with what is found in the local grocery store – even if it says “extra virgin.” The vat is sent directly from
It is said, after all, that the olive came to being on the mythical
Realizing the extensive trip the olive oil makes from
Greeks grow up cherishing the oil – from our baptism as babies, during which the priest anoints our mini hands and feet with olive oil in the sign of the cross; to earaches as adolescents, when our mothers dip a cotton ball in the silky oil and place it in our ear to ease the pain. Without question though, we treasure olive oil for its miraculous work in the kitchen. You would be hard-pressed to find a Greek dish that does not require olive oil: our salads dressed in it, our pitas brushed with it, our fish garnished with it. Greeks do not know the meaning of butter and cream (we leave that to the French). Even Lenten meals at times seem gluttonous as we devour an assortment of vegetables – eggplants, zucchinis, okra, beans, potatoes - all slathered with the rich, pungent oil (and perhaps some crushed tomato).
Happily for all lovers of green gold, the FDA stated in 2004 that the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil may actually reduce one’s risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, the “Mediterranean Diet” has become all the rage in recent years. In style or not, olive oil remains a staple in my kitchen, as I hope it is in many.