This tree was planted before the nation of Italy was born, when the Italian south was a kingdom apart. It could well have been producing olives when Naples was at the height of glory, one of the leading cities on the continent, and a must-see stop on the Grand Tour of the eighteenth century.
In my part of the world, wine tasting is popular, and when I lived in Texas, I participated in a chili cook-off. And chocolate tasting? I’m nibbling some right now.
But in the south of Italy, you find tours dedicated to tasting olive oils. I never gave much thought to variations in olive oil until I visited Italy in 2004. Then, it seemed quite a curiosity to me, the interest people took in their oils. Now, I’m eager to explore olive oils myself, and where better but Puglia?
According to The Olive Oil Times, about 40% of Italy’s olive oil grows on roughly 60 million trees in Puglia. You can read descriptions of different types of oil, and a great deal of olive knowledge.
How do you taste it? At Olive Oil Source, you can learn from professional olive oil taster Nancy Ash, owner of Strictly Olive Oil. You can learn the lingo and see what the pros are looking for in their oils.
For the more visual learners among us, here’s a video of Bill Sanders (called the evangelist of olive oil and wine) showing us all how to taste olive oil:
If you can’t make it to Italy, how about olive oil tasting in California? Yes, it’s available there too, so go out there and try a little EVOO! That’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil–soon you will be a pro in the tasting room.