February 17, 2011

Liquid Gold...Olive Oil

                                  Santorini, Greece

I have always been a big fan of Mediterranean fare, particularly the food of the Greece. Greek food shares many of the same characteristics as the food of both Turkey and Italy. Fresh lemon paired with fish or poultry, olives, tomatoes, and it includes herbs like basil and oregano. But probably the most ancient element of Greek cuisine and most prime to the Mediterranean diet is olive oil.

Homer called it "liquid gold." In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies. Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean: it has been medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power. The olive tree is a symbol of abundance, glory and peace.

In recent years we have heard about all the health benefits we get when we ingest olive oil. Olive oils pocesses antioxidative substances, and studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels.
Olive oil is also very well tolerated by the stomach and actually can serve to protect it. And the regular consumption of olive oil can reduce the incidence of gallstone formation.

But what I like best about olive aside from its health benefits is it versatility. The *Extra Virgin Olive has a high smoke point which means it can be heated up to 400 degrees and is an excellent choice when frying. I also love the taste! Olive oil has to be one of, if not my absolute favorite, kitchen must haves. I use it every day either in cooking or just alone on a cracker! Homer had it right…olive oil is pure liquid gold!

* All olive oils that are less than 1% acidity and produced by the first pressing of the olive fruit through the cold pressing process is called extra-virgin olive oil.

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