Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVO oil in recipes) has been in the Mediterranean and Italian culture for thousands of years and it is the main difference in culinary tradition between the Mediterranean and the North European diet. The olive is a fruit with a very long history, dating back to 5000/3000 years BC: it is a pulpy oily fruit that tends to green or to Purple/black once it has ripened. Only when they are perfectly ripe, olives are then pressed making sure the temperature of the paste doesn’t rise too much, in order to obtain a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil can be used in an enormous amount of ways. Raw to add the final touch to salads, fish, meats, risotto, pasta, vegetables. For cooking purposes to make the classical “soffritto” (finely chopped celery, onion and carrot slightly fried in evo olive oil) or to season roasts. For its particular smoke point it’s also used for deep frying fish and vegetables. It is also used as a natural preserver to keep vegetables and fish.
Olive oil is so deeply rooted in the Mediterranean culture that it has specific meanings and uses in Judaism, Christianity and Islamic rituals. The area of the Salento (in the South part of Puglia) exported olive oil to all the north European capitals to be used for lighting the cities; the owners of the Olive groves had the same sort of economic and political power that today is enjoyed by the extractors of mineral oil.