Olive oil, the Greek treasure
Olive oil is very important in Greek culture and food. Greek food was built on olives and olive oil.
There are an amazing number of different varieties of olives in Greece. From Kalamata to Peloponessos, black olives to green, you can be sure you will be getting a different and exquisite experience each time you consume a Greek olive.
From all these wonderful olives comes olive oil -an olive oil with such an amazing taste, that the Italians actually used to buy it from the Greeks. Olive oil is used extensively in Greek receipes, and it is also a favorite to drizzle over salads, dip bread in, and use in stews.
People eat more olive oil in Greece than any other country in the world about 26 liters per person, every year. To further demonstrate, the people in Italy and Spain eat an average of 14 liters a year per person.
Health Benefits of Greek Olive Oil
All of this olive oil is most likely the reason that Greeks often remain so healthy olive oil has a staggering amount of health benefits. Olive oil contains something called monounsaturated fatty acids, which is known to reduce your cholesterol.
Antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamin E also can help prevent heart disease, increase digestion, reduce inflammation and even reduce the risk of and battle colon cancer. And, it tastes great too! It is no surprise that olive oil is such a popular ingredient in Greek food.
Olive Oil Has A Special Place in Greek Mythology
The goddess Athena planted the olive tree as a way to get in good with the people of Acropolis. Acropolis became known as the home of olive oil. While the Armenians and Egyptians were aware of the olive tree, the Greeks were the first one to take part in the full scale cultivation of the olive into olive oil, between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC.
According to ancient stories, the goddess Athena caused the olive tree to spring up so that she could win the favor of the inhabitants of Acropolis. Hence, the Acropolis is always depicted with an ancient olive tree growing on it.
Olive Trees Are Revered In Greek Culture and Families
In more than one Orthodox religion, olives and olive oil were a symbol of peace and love. They were a portion of many religious rites, such as baptism. Olive tree saplings will be planted when a child is born, as a symbol of something that will grow and develop like the child will. When children grow enough and start school at age seven, the trees start producing olives.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, The Best Greece Has To Offer
There are different kinds of olive oil, used for different receipes. Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the superior class of Greek olive oil. It is used on salads for dressing, for dipping bread sauce, and sometimes for sauteing at low heat. It is made by tools instead of being chemically produced, and is known to have the best flavor of any olive oil. When extra virgin olive oil is heated, it can lose its taste and start to break apart, so it is not generally used for heating food. Extra virgin olive oil has the least acidity of any kind of olive oil.
Virgin olive oil is slightly more acidic, but still a small amount; and is still thought to have a good taste. Olive oil is refined, processed usually using chemical extraction. This is the form of olive oil usually used in cooking.
Different olives create different flavors in olive oils, and most Greeks have their favorites. It doesnt matter what Greek olive oil you choose, though , you cant go wrong. Olive oil adds a pleasing and polished taste to almost any dish. Greek food would not be Greek food without the creation of olive oil.