European Olive Oils in India

[singlepic id=1286 w=320 h=240 float=left]We were invited to the launch of a three year campaign to promote olive oils in India. Backed by the Italian government, the EU and driven by the Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVC), the campaign aims to spread knowledge of olive oils and cooking techniques to the consuming public. It was held at the Shangri-La hotel.

Definitely a step in the right direction. The way we use oil is horrendous and a little improvement will help our health tremendously, as the really good oils don’t lend themselves to high temperature cooking like deep frying etcetera. Personally, I have a few bottles of different grades of oil and use them at every opportunity. For example, if there’s scope for a little flavor or grease and there’s little or no heat involved, it’s the extra virgin olive oil without question. Quite strange when I sometimes remember the squarish, dark green cans of olive oil that used to be at home when I was a kid. We never dreamt of using them for cooking – only massages!

The presentations and speeches were largely forgetable as the translator couldn’t keep up. A ray of brilliance came from Professor Maurizio Servili, who made an excellent presentation, jam packed with information. Do download and go through it whenever you have the time. You’ll close it a wiser person, guaranteed. I don’t know who thought of educating the attendees on some of the points of olive oil tasting, but if I ever get to meet the person, I’ll warmly shake their hand and thank them for a great time. The tasting was the (my) highlight of the conference; Mr Nicola Perucci, Master Taster and Oil Blender took us through the motions of tasting an olive oil and it was quite informative to say the least.

Apart from Professor Servili and Mr. Perucci, I confess to being unimpressed by their experts.

Finally, the food, which was said to be made in extra virgin olive oil. We were invited to taste it to see for ourselves that the extra virgin olive oil used didn’t affect the taste. I found the food to be just alright with watered down flavors; not the sort I’d cook or eat by choice and doubt anybody will cook food that tastes so. If they do, they’ll probably revert to normal cooking within a week or two. There’s no doubt we need to change our eating habits. We’ll have to figure out the benefits ourselves and then see what’s the best way to fit healthier foods into our lifestyles.

All in all, I’m very happy to see the kind of efforts industry is making here, even if it is for a commercial purpose. Do check out oliveitup.in, a site launched by the campaign; quite alright for an initial effort. I hope to see it improve over time.

Ed: The photo on the front page is from the India Grill at the Hilton Garden Inn, New Delhi/Saket and unrelated to this event, except for the common link of olive oil.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.