And that in the 2009 Guida ai Migliori Oli del Mondo di Qualità Accertata (Guide to the Best Olive Oils in the World, Quality Assured), among the top six, three were Italian–and *two* of those were Calabrian?
Yes, down here in the toe of the boot, we have some excellent olive oil or olio d’oliva — that glorious provider of monounsaturated fats, which can naturally lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. FYI, extra-virgin quality aka EVOO is the healthiest as it is the least processed, keeping intact all those fabulous antioxidants that also keep your heart healthy.
Now you probably don’t think of Calabria as a main source of olive oil because producers here are often families with small groves who get their olives pressed at local mills; they use the oil for themselves and their families, give some away, sell some locally, and then perhaps sell the rest to wholesalers who take our dense, robust Calabrian olive oil and mix it with that of other regions and smack a label on it as being from *that* region–probably famous for its, ahem, olive oil.
I’m not naming names, but rest assured that even some the largest olive oil companies engage in this practice–and nobody’s complaining. Hey, everyone has access to great olive oil, gets paid, and us here in Calabria? We still have some of the best olive oil in the country right in our backyards, only we get it fresh from the press. Win, win, win, right Joe of Italyville?
Well, for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have neighbors who gift you their Calabrian olive oil, how would you like to get some of the good stuff straight from the source delivered right to your door?
Recently through Facebook, I met Vincenzo Cossari, who was born here in Badolato but has been living and working in Milan for years; after we exchanged the usual “to which family do you belong” info (and we figured out he went to school with one of P’s sisters), he sent me a link to his family’s website through which they sell organically produced Calabrian extra-virgin olive oil right here in Badolato:
Especially for you foodies out there, I highly suggest trying out true Calabrian olive oil at least once in your life (trust me, you’ll want more). Not only is it great for preserving fish, eggplant, mushrooms, and any number of vegetables, it’s the absolute best for preserving our beloved peperoncino.
Use this year’s oil fresh on salads and last year’s oil for frying, and you’ll soon find out why, if given the choice, most Calabrians avoid the stores and go straight to the presses for their olive oil.
If you like what you see at the Cossari website, be sure to contact Vincenzo, who speaks perfect English, at vcossari(at)hotmail(dot)it or through the contact form on the site, and let him know I sent you.
And soon you, too, can be enjoying this wonderful sapore di Calabria in the comfort of your own home.
P.S. Yes, the first photo shows olive oil in a vinegar bottle (aceto means vinegar in Italian for those who don’t know). This is because we often receive olive oil in large five liter bidoni so we transfer it to smaller, emptied out bottles for ease of pouring. Reduce, reuse, recycle baby!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy olive oil?