Way back in the Dark Ages when I was a child we had olive oil in our cupboard – however it was the medicine cupboard not the kitchen cupboard. It was very yellow, contained in a small bottle, the size of a medicine bottle maybe… medicine cupboard, medicine bottle… it was used to put in our ears if we had ear-ache. The thought of using it in or on food was incomprehensible; in fact I may even have thought it was poisonous to eat!
When I started to go to France as a student camping, we became better acquainted with olive oil as something you could cook with or use on salads… it was a different colour, more green than yellow and had an unusual, almost pleasing smell. We bought a big litre bottle of it which we kept in the food box, a cardboard box we put food in… obviously! All was well until one night, while we were out, there was a great storm which rattled the tent to such an extent that the box fell over and there was oil all across everything… These were the days when the only facilities on a camp site were toilets and taps!
Years after that, but still some time ago, I was watching a TV programme about food and drink called unsurprisingly ‘Food and Drink’. The resident wine buff was Jilly Goolden who would go to vineyards, have wine tastings, discuss wine with other experts and connoisseurs, sip, savour, drink! In one programme she was covering not wine but olive oil. I was so ignorant that I really thought olive oil was olive oil, not appreciating the differences in types of olives, place and country of origin, style etc. I was interested in what she and the expert talked about, he had different oils in little containers so you could really see how varied they were… and then they started tasting them!! I almost leapt out of my seat… tasting olive oil!! Tasting neat olive oil!!! I have a feeling he may have put little drops on the back of her hand ad she licked it, but I might be imagining that!
Now it’s an accepted thing – to taste olive oil, or having it at the start of a meal with the olives, balsamic, chunks of bread… Now I love the taste of it and often have it on bread instead of butter, My favourite is Greek olive oil, but I just get the ordinary stuff, my taste is not refined enough to buy the more expensive. We get ours by the 10 litre can, dark and green and peppery and aromatic mmmm…. We have just run out, and having wrung out the can we need to buy more…
How surprised my young self having golden olive oil poured into my aching ear would be to know it was not only edible but delicious!