Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

[amazon template=banner easy&asin=978-0393343618]Tom Mueller, an American free lance writer in Italy, became an expert in olive oil. In this wide-ranging and fascinating book, he describes how he learned to taste oil and recognize quality, the cultural and historical significance of oil, and, perhaps most important, the extent to which olive oil is adulterated, mislabeled or misunderstood.

His vivid descriptions of the people he met in investigating olive oil quality and corruption give the book a detective story quality. Once you start reading, it’s hard to put it down. The thoroughness of his determined search to figure out exactly what is going on in the production of oil world wide is impressive.

One of the most important outcomes of his research is: Real oil is not cheap. He explains in detail why if you pay $2-3 for a bottle of “Extra Virgin”, it can’t be “Extra Virgin”.

Until I read his book, I never would have understood what the left-hand label in this photo I took at a restaurant in Italy meant.
two oils

Refined or “Pomace” oil refers to taking pulp, skins and seeds of mechanically pressed olives (for Extra Virgin or Virgin), pressing them and refining the oil with heat. Unscrupulous producers often try to sell this oil as Extra Virgin, but here it is labeled correctly. After reading Mueller’s description of pomace oil, it’s hard to believe anyone would buy or use it.

Since writing the book, Mueller website with practical advice about:
-how to taste and become a certified taster
-how to choose/buy real oil
-how to get the health benefits of oil

He is also at work on a documentary film. Stay tuned.

To buy/order “real” olive oil, check out:
Tom’s list of great oils worldwide
Tom’s US Supermarket Picks:
– the Extra Virgin Alliace
-contact Johnny Madge (oliveoil@johnnymadge.com)

To order Extra Virginity from Amazon:
[amazon asin=978-0393343618&template=add to cart]

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