Book Review by Megan Johnson
I was not compensated for this post in any way, all opinions are my own and all quotes (unless otherwise specified) are from “Extra Virginity.” You can purchase your own copy here. This link is in affiliate link, which means if you purchase through this link, you help support this site at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
“Breaking into a system or exposing its weakness is a good thing because truth and knowledge must win out.” – Dan Farmer
I will not be doing book reviews every week, but I do want to start writing up and posting my reviews on the books that I will be putting links to in the ToF book club. This review will be a drop in the bucket compared to my Monthly Book Reviews which ended up more like book reports. Needless to say these will be in more of a 1-2 page ranges.
Extra Virginity is a fascinating read. It is equal parts exposay, memoir and history novel. I especially like the history anecdotes, since I am a huge history buff. It seamlessly goes from mentioning the shady dealing in the olive oil trade, then it recants broad historical passages that allow you to get lost in the wide history of olive oil. After I finished this book I came away with a wide understanding of what goes on in the world of extra virgin olive oil. It is sad, but, you are just as likely to get laponte (lamp oil) and you are fresh pressed virgin olive oil. This is especially true if you buy from the large oils conglomerates that happens to sell a whole host of Italy inspired prepackaged foods, I will not name them, but they may rhyme with dertolli.
This book drops knowledge bombs from the outset, Mueller takes the reader through the process of grading the oils, I never thought people could taste different notes in olive oil like a coffee of wine connoisseur. After a little sensory training I may be scared at what passes for olive oil. This is what a large part of his book focuses on, however are still quality olive oil manufacturers out there and Mueller does a good job in pointing out a few of them. If you do not want to go through the research process to find quality oil around you on Muller’s’ site www.extravirginity.com, he has provided resources to help you track down oil.
Another thing I was not aware of was that a lot of “Italian” olive oil is imported it to Italy which drives down price and a good proportion of what is brought in is laced with lesser quality oils (mainly vegetable oils, which we know from “The Big Fat Surprise” is not good for us in the least), or other possibly toxic additives that neutralize flavor or alter the color of the oil. I was also blown away that the bastardization of olive oil very happened outside of Italy, where the need to sell oil is not as high.
Overall this was a great book, I love how Muller weaves in three elements I mentioned above, because it is so interesting when you get the history along with the science (or rather exposay.) I do not know if this book will change the governmental bodies that control olive oils, but at least we can now be better informed so we can make healthy olive oil choices.