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Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil Hardcover – December 5, 2011
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(Starred review) Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text.
Starred review. Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text. "
The New Yorker writer does for his subject what Susan Orlean did for orchids. "
... [Extra-Virginity] does for olive oil what Eric Schlosser s Fast Food Nation did for hamburgers. Mueller traces the history of this valuable product from antiquity to the present, but the really disturbing part is his expose of the inferior quality control and outright fraud among today s oil producers. "
How long have readers been waiting for a book like this? A century? A millennium? Finally, the earth's most poetic food has found its storyteller. Essential, smart, and ridiculously overdue. --Bill Buford, author of Heat"
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a story of two opposites: first-class quality doing battle with worldwide commodity pricing and big-money subsidies. Mueller, best known for his 2007 exposé on the world of adulterated olive oil in The New Yorker magazine, spent the last four years delving deep into the subject. When the stakes are as large as a rapidly growing, $1.5 billion business in the U.S. alone, it's understandable that Mueller would uncover an undercurrent of shady dealings.
He introduces readers to a cast of characters from around the world. From "hero" archetypes like Paolo Pasquali of Villa Campestri in Tuscany, a former philosophy professor, who spearheads a new system to protect oil from tree to table to villainous players like Domenico Ribatti, whose illegal activity eventually led to a plea bargain in Italian court. Even Mark Twain gets a mention.
Kudos to the well-deserved acknowledgement of Mike Madison's long years of diligence as a small-scale producer of first class oil. I was only disappointed that there was so little mention of many other ardent, honest and ethical growers in California who are toiling to see extra virgin olive oil gain its rightful place on the shelf. I hope Mueller gets to meet some of them before he completes a sequel.
Caroline J. Beck, The Olive Oil Source
What I (gratefully) did get from this book were some great sources to find authentic extra virgin olive oil and a persuasive argument that quality in the product does matter for culinary and health reasons. These are two good reasons to buy Mueller's book. And here's a tip to perspective readers who might, like me, tire of the long passages about Italian oil criminality or semi-cryptic descriptions of olive oil's chemical makeup: you can skip to page 221 of the book where begins Mueller's detailed Appendix, and where you will find all of the information you need to locate, buy and appreciate authentic extra virgin olive oil of any origin. It includes what to avoid as well as how and when to purchase. I have used the information and bought my first Mueller-recommended oil--a Spanish label, Castillo de Canena, that is every good thing that Mueller promised it would be, including crushingly expensive.
Finally, here are a few important things that the reader will get from this book: most extra virgin olive oil sold in the U.S.Read more ›
He should know. Mueller is the investigative author whose 2007 piece in The New Yorker, Slippery Buisness: The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil, forever changed the discourse about olive oil quality by uncovering plenty of places you wouldn't want your children to go.
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil is Mueller's first book and, while the title emphasizes the weight and complexity of those words, it's all about people.
Mueller is driven by a profound respect for the dedicated people who make good olive oil and a disdain for the fraudsters and profiteers who have always had their way with us. But much more than just getting in the faces of the good guys and the bad guys, he tells why it matters. And then you get it -- you understand what olive oil really is, and why so many care about it so deeply.
After 256 engrossing pages that go by way too quickly, someone who never contemplated the tin of olive oil on the kitchen counter will know why it has brought out the best, and the worst in people for thousands (yes thousands) of years.
I tore through the book, then went back to the beginning and tore through it again. The only times I paused were to read a passage over to take it in a second time, marveling at Mueller's way with words.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book - what I need now is a counterpart, for Balsamic Vinegar -- which faces many of the same issues in this country.Published 28 days ago by Darthmullet
It is such a shame we have to go through life like marks on a carnival midway; constantly on guard against those who would rob or defraud us. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Code Slinger
Mr Mueller has a love for EVOO...and is in disbelief over the blatant exploitation of a sublime title being applied to stuff just this side of motor oil. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Xmarc999
Who would have guessed the olive-oil world was rife with such intrigue and deception? My problem, now, is trying to figure out which oils are the good ones and which have been... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Georgette Huff
After reading this book, I realize I have never tasted really good or extraordinary extra virgin olive oil. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
A very important topic if interested in health. Toxic oils are rampant in our culture and almost universal in the restaurant industry. Problem goes way beyond Olive oil. Read morePublished 2 months ago by T. Fry