By Tom Mueller

Publish 12 months note: First released January 1st 2011 via W. W. Norton

The most sensible oils are made via real artist-craftsmen, who marry centuries-old agricultural knowledge with state-of-the-art extraction know-how, and now produce the best oils in historical past. notwithstanding, those manufacturers are being progressively pushed from the industry: extra-virgin olive oil is tough and dear to make, but alarmingly effortless to adulterate. expert oil criminals are flooding the marketplace with reasonably cheap, fake extra-virgins, reaping wealthy gains and undercutting sincere manufacturers, when specialists in Italy, the united states and in different places flip a blind eye.

From the feisty pugliese girl of sixty suffering to maintain the relations enterprise afloat to her industrialist neighbour who has allegedly grown prosperous on counterfeit oil, to Benedictine priests in Western Australia and poker-playing agriculture barons in northern California who make this historic nutrients in New international methods, Mueller distils the passions and lifestyles tales of oil manufacturers, and explores the clash, culinary energy and cultural value of serious olive oil.

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Additional info for Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

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Excavators found every object just as the terror-stricken workers had left it: distilling equipment and maceration dishes containing essences of lavender, coriander, laurel, and rosemary; smelting furnaces that still held traces of copper ore and bronze of the kind used to make statuettes; and looms for weaving linen and wool fabrics. At the center of the complex, they unearthed grindstones and a massive press for making olive oil, along with twelve enormous pithoi capable of holding a total of 3,000 liters of oil.

Two operated a tractor with a vibrating arm clamped to an upper limb of one tree, which shook the olives loose onto a ground-cloth spread below. Saverio explained that the trunk and the larger branches were too stiff and fragile to use this method without damaging them, so the rest of the tree had to be harvested using slower manual techniques; since labor costs account for most of the overall expense of the harvest, older orchards are more time-consuming and costly to work. The other three workers were standing on tall ladders propped against the far side of the tree, combing out the olives with hard plastic hooks strapped to their wrists, and with hydraulic whisks with vibrating rubber fingers shaped like large hands.

Over the last three decades, new oil-making technologies, together with advances in olive botany and agronomy, have enabled skilled Italian producers to make some of the best and healthiest oils in history. Italy is a long, narrow, mountainous peninsula that stretches from the Alps almost to Africa, and contains a remarkable variety of microclimates and soil types, as well as more olive cultivars than any other country—an estimated five hundred of the seven hundred cultivars recognized worldwide.

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