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Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil Hardcover – December 5, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2011: E.V.O.O. just got a whole lot more complicated. Tom Mueller's Extra Virginity is about as explosive as an expose can get, at least if your subject is liquid fat. The road from tree to table, it turns out, is fraught with corruption, fraud, and laboratory interventions. Mueller shows how and why the trade in adulterated olive oil is about as profitable as the trade in some hard drugs, and with a lot less risk, too. There are equally entertaining detours into olive oil's long history, the politics of regulation and enforcement, and even debates over the best way to taste it (swirl, aerate, spit, or just swig?). All in all, it's a great read not just for foodies, but also for anyone interested in the complexities of global trade and organized crime. --Darryl Campbell
(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"
Top customer reviews
Overall this book was enjoyable, and if you like olive oil then you will probably enjoy it. If you do not like olive oil, but are interested in some of the darker aspects of modern food production, then you will also probably enjoy it, and you may pick up some reasons to like olive oil along the way.
.....but it is a very good read! If you're a foodie, or just don't want to get cheated when buying EVOO you should read this book.
I wish United States was strong on food quality regulation. Unlike many other countries, US doesn't demand distributors to add the acidity of the Olive Oil on the bottle. This is not alone a guarantee of quality, but it would help to guide buyers when shopping Olive Oil.
This book was well-written and certainly engaging to read. I enjoyed learning more about how olive oil is made and how the term "extra virgin" has become close to meaningless for many oils. The author spoke to several olive oil producers all over Europe and included a lot of interesting information about the industry as a whole and how olive oil is made and sold.
I would have appreciated a more scientific analysis. Like I said, the author spoke to several olive oil producers and included a lot of interesting dialogue, but this is all speculation and anecdotal evidence. Although he included information about the rules by which producers are supposed to work, he failed in many cases to confirm with other sources which oil producers are acting improperly, other than through conversations with their competitors.
I also would have appreciated some more organized information about how to choose a real "extra virgin" olive oil. Even an appendix with above-board producers could have solved this problem, but all he offers are a few olive oils that he feels (again, based on conversations with the producers themselves) are actually "extra-virgin," scattered throughout the text. I simply highlighted all the olive oils he mentioned that were operating in the right way for later reference, but a more organized list would have been very helpful.
Overall, a good book that I enjoyed reading. The kindle version of this book is well-formatted and free of errors (that I noticed, anyway).