Grilled (Greek) Cheese:
Some like it hot -
With cheese this delicious, who needs bread?... By Amy Wentz
Juicy Culture: Concentrating on
the healthy benefits
of Greece's main squeeze... By Elena Fotiadi
The Restaurant at the End of the Atoll: You know a cuisine has gone global when you overhear
a Sri Lankan waiter explain the basics of Greek yogurt
dip to a German tourist on a postage stamp-sized
island in the Maldives. ... By Ellen Gooch
Greek Wine Guide:
Senior brand manager at W.S. Karoulias, Ioannis Koulelis is one of the leading experts on Greeka... By Ioannis Koulelis
When one thinks of all the great wines out there today,
it is easy to gloss over the fact that many of them are dessert wines. ... by Sam Nelom
Last Look: Evil Eye Do you believe in magic? The Greeks certainly do,
and have for millennia. The specific magic they believe in is called the evil eye. Hesiod, Callimachus and Plato wrote about it, to name a few credible sources. ...
“You’ve got to hand it to the Italians: they know how
to market olive oil and vinegar. Heaven knows they’ve had practice. Even Mario Puzo acknowledges this fact. What was Vito Corleone’s legitimate business in The Godfather? Importing olive oil.”
The problem with Italian olive oil, especially extra virgin, is that much of it isn’t Italian at all. A good deal of it isn’t even extra virgin – and some of it isn’t even olive oil. Paul Armas Lepisto, Director of The Olive University in Italy, acknowledges this. He wrote: “When you consider the fact that oil is rarely sold as anything other than extra virgin, yet the majority of the oil on the market is of a lesser quality (and when one considers how expensive a true extra virgin is to produce)…, I think some suspicion is warranted.”
Italy does make excellent oils. But as Tom Mueller wrote in the August 13, 2007 issue of the New Yorker, entitled “Slippery Business – The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil”: “Fraud is so widespread that few growers can make an honest living”. Mueller goes on to state that the adulterated oil business is more lucrative than dealing heroin (plus, you’re not as likely to get shot).
Indigenous Greek Olive Varieties
Extra Virgin Land
Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil in the world. It is, however, the largest producer of extra virgin olive oil. 80% of Greek olive oil is extra virgin. This is partially because the terrain is not conducive to harvesting by mechanical means. Instead, most of the olives are harvested by hand, which reduces the potential for bruising. Bruised fruit becomes bitter fruit. By comparison, only 50% of Italian oil and a mere 20% of the Spanish oil is extra virgin. Nearly one half of Greek oil is exported,
mostly in bulk, and mostly to Italy. Greeks consume, per capita, more olive oil than anyone else in the world; whatever doesn’t get exported goes into their stomachs.
There are a few large groves in Greece. Most of the production, though, comes from small plots. These, theoretically, must register the number of trees they cultivate and the estimated output expected from these trees. Such bureaucracy is proscribed by European quota rules so complex that it would be cruel to describe them here in full. Suffice it to say, if registered, the producer gets a bit more than one Euro per tree from the EU as a subsidy. Registering costs money, so a volume of trees is necessary to make registering cost effective.