Extra Virginity – The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
Tom Mueller’s new book was just released on December 5 and is available at Amazon.com. It is an engrossing book with a simple and direct style that is so fun to read it took just a few sittings to finish. It weaves the history of olive oil among wonderful anecdotes of the fascinating people and places he has visited through the years. You will learn countless surprising facts, like the tradition of olive oil fraud is over 5000 years old, documented by cuneiform tablets found near modern day Aleppo in Syria that describe combating olive oil fraud by naming an “olive oil surveillance team at Nuzar.” He tells the 19th-20th century tale of butter vs the newly invented margarine that illustrates that food fraud in the US is old and common place.
He also tells many personal stories of deeply committed small producers struggling to make high quality olive oil. You join Mr. Mueller in his own journey in going from knowing little about olive oil to appreciating its many nuances and in doing so you learn a great deal along the way. And of course, along the way, you learn the essential healthful benefits of real extra virgin olive oil’s bitterness and pungency that at first are hard to understand but then become your friend and you look for them in every olive oil you taste. In the end you are left with a renewed appreciation of the producers of real extra virgin olive oil and the individuals who can appreciate its deep gifts.