Extra virgin olive oil extraordinaire, Italy’s gold and delicious nectar. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, and it only takes a quick glance at history and mythology books to see how human history also passes through an olive leaf.
It nourishes and sometimes heals (find out more about the beneficial properties of extra virgin oil), it gives refinement and taste to even the simplest of recipes, and it is a product that will never cease to amaze us for its ability to be simple and complex at the same time. Simple because all that is needed to produce it is an olive and a mill, complex because it is linked, in our borders, to the characteristics of the territory and individual cultivars. Let’s get to know it in more depth.
WHY IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL BITTER?
Extra virgin olive oil reshuffles the taste cards, revolutionizes the beaten path of the taste buds, allowing us to enter a sensory world where nothing is what it seems. If you try to ask a child from our countryside, who is used to good “home” oil, what this delicious nectar tastes like, he will candidly answer, “It’s bitter.”
Therein lies the first amazing quality of this product, its ability to open our minds and senses. From an early age we are accustomed to recognizing bitterness as a negative factor, a gift Mother Nature gave us to enable us not to recklessly ingest potentially dangerous substances. In the case of oil, the perception is reversed, and the bitter taste actually belongs closely to both the type of olive and the production process. This flavor is related to the presence of the cherished polyphenols, valuable antioxidant substances that have a positive and beneficial effect on our bodies. Bitter on often comes from olives harvested while still green or olives brought to the mill and processed along with the leaves. To appreciate bitter oils, we learn how to pair them well. They are perfect for the classic round of oil raw, on toasted bread, on legume soups.
WHY DOES EXTRA VIRGIN OIL TINGLE IN THE THROAT?
There are oils that coat the palate and throat with a more or less, a spicy sensation and our tasting stops on the wave of barely hinted perplexity. Will it be good? Again, extra virgin subverts the taste card. Oil “that tingles” is a good, quality-perfect product. It is not synonymous with acidity, as the laymen of this world often point out, nor with poor quality. In fact, the acidity of these products can only be detected in the laboratory and certainly not by our taste buds. The culprit responsible for this pinch in the throat has a very specific name: oleocanthal. This substance discovered a handful of years ago, is a polyphenol, a good one, a part of that host of substances that Mother Nature has given us to feel good. in In particular, Oleocanthal, has a molecular structure that is very close to that of ibuprofen, the famous and powerful anti-inflammatory chemical. A nice discovery that increases even more respect for this product. As we said at the beginning, extra virgin heals, relieves the ills of the soul and also of the body; it is precisely science that confirms this for us. Pairing a spicy oil is simple, just pair it with succulent meat dishes, colorful bruschetta, or full-bodied tomato sauces.
WHY DOES EXTRA VIRGIN OIL CHANGE COLOR?
Extra virgin oil does not have a dress uniform. Its color varies from green to yellow, passing through a series of shades that catch our eye from time to time. The change of hue in this product is related to multiple factors. The first is strictly chemical in nature. In fact, the color is due to the presence of two substances: chlorophylls and carotenes. It is from their intimate and secret union that the different combinations as well as their proportions arise. The variety of olives used, and their degree of ripeness do the rest of the work, and while it is true that the more unripe they are the greater the prevalence of dark green, it is also true that much depends on the identity card of the fruit itself.
Climate, soil, monocultivar: every olive is different, and this is precisely the key to the success of our extra virgin.
In conclusion, bitterness, the degree of spiciness or an iridescent color are not defects but qualities of our extra virgin olive oil. Learning to love and taste it in the most appropriate way means clearing our minds (and hearts) of false beliefs and prejudices that have no scientific merit.