Fact: Greece is the world’s largest producer of extra virgin olive oil.
Not surprising, especially if you’ve ever spotted the fine-print “Made in Greece” on any oil bottles. For you observant oil-lovers, the real question becomes:
Who consumes the most olive oil?
Before I tell you the answer, consider what you already know about olive oil. Unless you’ve been trapped underground for the past few decades, you know this “secret” ingredient has leaked from its Greek and Mediterranean homelands. Americans have adopted olive oil into imitation-French/Italian cuisine, as well as welcomed it into their homes via cooking, dipping, and even some beauty products. And what does this olive oil hand lotion represent?
American consumerism. Olive oil is proof that you can’t fight the inevitable. When Americans likes something, we buy, sell and eat a lot of it.
Only somehow, Greeks win the prize for eating it too! They consume the most olive oil per capita by a large margin. So compared to you average-Joe, the average-Stavros sops up a lot more oil on a daily basis. Meaning Greeks must practically drink this stuff.
To be fair, American olive oil lovers do consume more bottles year-round. We even have literal “olive oil delivery services” like the Olive Oil of the Month Club from Gourmet Food Clubs, a gourmet gift company based right here in Southern California.
After dipping a slice of sourdough into one of their oils, I must salute how these American foodies have reinvented the oily staple of Greek cuisine. This month I sampled 2 unique flavor-infused olive oil’s from the 3-Month Olive Oil Club: CV Delights’ Sun Dried Tomato Olive Oil and Savor Swinney’s Garlic Infused Olive Oil. As you may have noticed, these subtle flavors left a strong impression.
I’m not a chef. I’m not even an okay or semi-decent cook. In my case, it probably is for lack of trying. You see when I’m hungry; I’m like a child on the verge of full-blown temper tantrum. I want a golden egg and I want it now! Only I’d take any old ordinary egg. Scrambled, over-easy. Or any food at all really.
Thus, I cracked open and dipped into these oils within minutes of receiving them. Thank you to whichever co-worker bought the bread I found in the break room. Without you, I’d have “gone Greek” and drank the stuff straight. Something tells me that would not have ended well.
In spite of my enthusiasm, I am a little suspicious of flavored olive oils. Why mess with a good thing? How can I know the flavor’s been “infused?” This is important, as artificial flavoring makes my throat a scratchy. (This may be psychological, but it still hurts.)
I started with the Sun Dried Tomato olive oil, thinking it would prepare me for the garlicky punch in the mouth I looked forward to later. The oil’s delicate sweetness and rustic tomato flavor complimented the olive oil nicely. It was tasty enough that I even took a few extra dips for good measure. And then a few more after that. You know, because I am so thorough at my job.
A half a loaf of bread later and I remembered the Garlic-Infused olive oil was still waiting for me out back…I mean, in the box. I tried wafting the bottle to see if it gave off a strong scent, then gathered my courage and dipped right in. I don’t know how my breath was after sampling, but I can tell you that the taste wasn’t too strong. And the oil really tasted like it had been infused with actual cloves of garlic. I imagine it’d be great to serve along with Italian appetizers.
With the tasting behind us, the break-room bread and I fully recommend you sign up for this Olive Oil Club. Olive Oil may be Greek at heart, but if Americans have an area of expertise, it’s condiments. We’re pros at adding additional flavor to things that already taste good. It works in these infused oils, and it’ll work on whatever you eat them with. Especially if delicious, authentic, gourmet olive oils in a variety of flavors is your kind-of-thing. To order the club, go to Gourmet Food Clubs.