Italian olive oil is the best in the world, but thanks to the EU only Italians get to sample it.
Italian olive oils – there are as many flavors as wines – are incomparably better than the stuff you buy abroad, and lie at the heart of Italian cooking. That’s why we’re buying a house (complete with small olive grove) in the province that produces the very best oil in the whole of Italy.
But you probably won’t get to sample Italian oil:
Large olive oil brands, such as Filippo Berio and Bertolli, have long cultivated the image that its oil comes from rustic, rolling groves in the Italian countryside.
Instead, it often arrives in Italy in tanker trucks from destinations as diverse as Tunisia, Turkey, Greece and Spain.
According to EU laws, foreign oil can be sold as Italian olive oil if it is cut with a small amount of the domestic product.
Only four per cent of olive oil leaving Italy is pure Italian oil.
You’ll need a tasting and a fat wallet to track down any of that 4%.
Or you can fly to Italy and buy some, but will then either have to carry it back through airport security, which the EU at Brit urging has banned, or pack it in your checked bag, where it may be pinched or broken.
So I’d recommend shipping it – just don’t use FedEx.
It’s worth the effort.