When four years ago we decided to launch this magazine, we knew exactly what our main goal would be. To focus on bridging the gap between quality olive oil producers and consumers. We had heard so much about the need to spread the olive oil culture in a direct and accessible way that ultimately it's what we have ended up doing.
With all of our trials and errors over this period of time, we have witnessed the emergence of other types of popular initiatives that share our mission. Among the most effective, thanks to their direct action, though limited to a generally small number of attendants, the tasting sessions particularly stand out, as in a fun and educational way, they endeavour to help the public develop good selection criteria.
Any place is a good place to teach consumers how to differentiate between oils: mills, local fairs, congresses, press releases, international shows… In these cases, the procedure to follow is usually to take two different paths which, nonetheless, always lead to the same place.
On the other hand, there are also tasting sessions in which consumers are taught to distinguish between an extra virgin, replete with positive attributes, and another olive oil that is bursting with defects. Whereas, other tasting sessions take place in a scaled way, that is, using extra virgins made of the same varietal harvested at different degrees of ripeness or alternatively, using different varietals with the purpose of teaching participants to appreciate the different intensities of fruitiness, bitterness and spiciness they offer.
Whatever the case, the expressions on the faces of the novices say it all. Often, they can't help feeling a certain fascination on seeing that what they had been consuming up to then bore no relationship whatsoever to excellence, however much their village mill had guaranteed it. No offence to the villages which, of course, are where the best extra virgins are made. Where else?
Nonetheless, such demonstrations achieve the opposite effect when the supposedly extra virgins actually aren't. We prefer not to name names, because we assume that they have good intentions, but the truth is that unfortunately these cases are not by any means uncommon.
On the contrary, we've tasted lampante oils among the selections of numerous food fairs in our country, at tastings organised by certain institutions that promote the product from their respective regions or in mills aiming to seduce the public with flat, bitter and, even, lampante, oils. A meaningless exercise that serves to misinform, rather than inform. This type of situation, however, has no place in the new section we are pleased to launch in this edition, “Culinary alchemy by Firo”, written by the distinguished chef, Firo Vázquez, a veritable expert in olive oil culture.