Liquid Gold

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January 30, 2013 by ebostick1212

You know that fancy bottle of extra virgin Italian olive oil that is hanging among the other bottles in your cupboard?  It might be lying about its nationality.  Did you know that a large portion of the world’s olive oil is not from the vast, sloping hillsides of Italy.  30% of the world’s olive oil comes from one region of one comunidad in Spain:  Jaén, in eastern Andalucía.

Olive oil ranges from the clearish gold stuff I keep in my cupboard, to a murky, green spicy substance straight from the presses.

Olive oil ranges from the clearish gold stuff I keep in my cupboard, to a murky, green spicy substance straight from the presses.

Let me clarify, this is equivalent to saying that 30% of corn growing in the world comes from Northwestern Ohio.  It is a huge amount of product coming from a pretty small region.  A region that is pretty much known for the gallons upon gallons of olive oil produced each year.

In fact, when you drizzle that fancy schmancy Italian olive oil on your ‘authentic’ homemade bruschetta….you’re authentic bruschetta may not be so authentic anymore.  Many of the Italian olive oil brands actually don’t use oil from Italy.  The olives are processed in Spain (most likely Jaén, or at least Andalucía), and shipped to Italia, where it is then bottled with an Italian name.  Shocker, right?!

They may ship olives to Italy, but there is still much left over. These briny orbs are a huge part of Andalucían life.  They are used for everything.  Out for tapas? You’ll probably receive a plate of olives, gratis.  Hungry for breakfast?  Head to any bar in town, and you’ll get a tostada lashed with the gold stuff.  A favorite childhood snack here?  A slice of bread, covered in oil and sprinkled with sugar. Olives are to Andalucians as butter is to American Midwesterners.

Who knew something so simple could be something so delicious?

Who knew something so simple could be something so delicious?

This connection to the olive groves has run deep for centuries, with families often tending to the same plants their grandparents once did.  In fact, if an Andalucían were to bleed, I’d bet you anything, they wouldn’t bleed blood, but olive oil.

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