Clare Ferguson’s Olive Oil: Cooking, Exploring, Enjoying, a book I recently discovered at Whole Foods Market, is a great guide that outlines the process of making olive oil and then takes the reader on a tour through the various countries that grow olives and produce olive oil. Of Sicily, she writes:
It was the Ancient Greeks who originally introduced the olive tree to the Italians and it is in the Western Greek colonies of Southern Italy and Sicily, after all, where the best-preserved Greek ruins are to be found and some of the finest olive oil is produced.
She also defines the various labeling terms, providing the consumer with important advice on how to choose a good oil. Ferguson is very familiar with olive oil’s health benefits, and writes:
The Healthy Oil: Olive oil is one of the most delicious and natural of all lipids (fats) and an absolute health bonus. By choosing the lower grades you deprive yourself of some of the health benefits.
She also includes a recipe section that covers sauces, salads, appetizers, main dishes and desserts from all over the Mediterranean. Some of the highlights include a vegetable fritto misto, which is a popular Italian vegetable side dish that consists of mixed vegetables battered and deep fried, and a delicious recipe for focaccia. To all the health zealots, Ferguson notes:
…minimal oil is absorbed if the temperatures are right and, in any case, olive oil does not degrade at high frying temperatures: a bonus since most other oils are damaged in this treatment.
Overall, Ferguson’s book includes great information about how and where olive oil is produced as well as some very tasty ways to use it. Buon appetito!