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Running a close second to my love of cookery books is a passion for foodie magazines, and let’s be honest, in the UK at least, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice, despite their hefty price tag.  There are two magazines that do make it into my basket however – the Sainsbury’s magazine and Waitrose Food.  They both have a cover price of £2 and the latter is free to myWaitrose members.

I was delighted on a recent trip to Waitrose to see ‘Olive Oil Special – Our pick of the best, plus an amazing recipe for olive oil cake’ splashed across the cover (ha, ha, pun intended, take a look!)

Yum, yum, I was so excited to find a feature on Olive Oil, and with the brilliant selection of EVOO on offer in my local store (Pontprennau, Cardiff), I figured there’d be plenty to read about.  My initial excitement soon turned to disappointment;  I couldn’t even find the feature!  Expecting at least a double page spread with lots of glossy photos of lovely EVOO bottles from around the world, it took three ‘looks’ before I finally found it –  half a page on page 11.  Four Olive Oils – that’s it, four.  Oh boy, my heart plummeted.  Then I reminded myself that not everyone in the UK is as obsessed with the stuff as I am, and Waitrose magazine has a huge readership and it’s better to start small and not confuse things with too many options.  Pep talk to self over, I read the piece: Behind the Label featuring EVOOs from Greece, Spain, France and Italy and my mouth started watering.  Don’t they look great?  

And I was somewhat mollified by the five recipes starting on page 53 and spread across the next seven pages entitled Virgin Queen.  I did have a chuckle reading the start of the article which I quote:  ‘In the 1950’s, Elizabeth David had to tell readers to get olive oil from the chemist …’  On a recent visit to a chemist I was rather shocked to see a tiny bottle of olive oil on sale – presumably for ear ache or some such ailment?  And so, back to excitement – shall I try the Spinach and Feta Gözlemeler (described as a moreish Turkish flatbread) or the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Anchovy Breadcrumbs?  Decisions, decisions.

Final gripe, then I’ll stop moaning, I promise.  Although all of the recipes sound fabulous and all of them feature Olive Oil (of course!) I was a bit disappointed that there’s no link between the four mentioned on page 11 and the recipes – I’d have expected the magazine to recommend a specific oil for each recipe – after all, isn’t the point to sell more olive oil?  And one of the problems I think we all face is knowing which oil to use for each recipe.  So, here’s my final offering this week – some words of wisdom from me, The Olive Oil Taster – a consumer who’d like to know more.  Drum roll please.

As a general rule when trying to decide which oil to use for a particular recipe, try to pick one that comes from the same country as the dish you’re preparing i.e. Spanish EVOO for Spanish dishes, Greek for moussaka etc.  It’s kind of obvious I guess but housewives throughout the Mediterranean use local ingredients (and by local, I mean usually grown in the same village).  Their produce and oils will balance perfectly.  So, as a rule of thumb, that’s not a bad place to start.

I’m also a bit miffed that the Italian EVOO is the most expensive featured when Spain produces the most EVOO and wins most of the international awards – but that’s a rant for another day!!!!

Until next time, enjoy lots of heart healthy EVOO,