Olive oil has ancient history

Two months ago an ancient ship-wreck was discovered nearly 3000 feet beneath the Mediterranean Sea. It seems the ship was lost about 2500 years ago. The marine archeologists renamed the vessel "Melkarth" after the Phoenician god of sailors.

Remote video cameras panned the wreck and found many large ceramic jars - called amphoras. These jars were usually used by traders as shipping containers carrying honey, olive oil, wine, fish sauce, and dyes. For the experts, the styles and shapes of the amphoras date and determine the age and cultural origin of, in this case, the Melkarth.

This vessel is believed to be the oldest ever discovered in deep water.

One traded commodity from ancient times frequently found on such vessels is olive oil. In amphoras, sealed with cork, wax, and resin, often the oils, while not consumable, were discovered to be in remarkably well preserved condition.

Amongst the natural processed food items, the history of olive oil is on the margin of every page of the story of peoples habiting the Mediterranean region.

The global production of olive oil is 5 million tons (1997 data). The major commercial suppliers to Canada of this fragile substance are: Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Lebanon, Turkey and the USA. Canadians in 1997 imported close to $50 million worth of Virgin Olive oil.

The finest type available is the Extra Virgin Olive oil.

Recently I had a most informative chat with Ms. Helen Koutalianos the proprietor of Basil Olive Oil Products in Pitt Meadows. Her family operates an estate olive grove in Greece. Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil under the name of "Golden Olive Eleni" is available in numerous food stores in the Lower Mainland.

"Our product is a first cold press, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, of a single Olive Oil Estate. To the consumer this means that they are getting what they are paying for, the finest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The flavour, aroma, and rich green colour only found in fresh pressed olive oil," - comments Ms. Koutalianos. "The people of the Mediterranean have been using olive oil for a variety of purposes since antiquity." - She continues on, "Recently, studies in Europe have shown that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is protecting people against cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis" - she concludes.

The quality of this olive oil - organically grown - is outstanding. We are fortunate that we have a fine selection of olive oils in the market. But, check the supplier, and know the product you want to buy. Usually, there is a positive correlation between price and quality.

Taken from:
Chef in your Kitchen
By Julius Pokomandy
News Columnist


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