Olive oil is becoming more and more popular with food lovers who enjoy a good quality olive oil as much as a glass of expensive wine. And just as wine lovers enjoy sampling vintages from different parts of the world, lovers of good food are seeking out extra virgin olive oils from less known olive-producing regions.
When it comes to olive oil, Italy and Spain are the first countries that probably come to mind. But olives have been cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin for millennia and today olive oil is produced in more than 40 countries throughout the world.
“The history of olive oil is our own history”
One of the olive producing countries that's been receiving more and more attention for its high-quality oil is Tunisia. This North African country close to Malta and Sicily has been producing olive oil since 8th century BC. One-third of the country is covered with olive groves, and olive oil is an essential ingredient of its gastronomy.
“In Tunisia, olive oil is a lot more than food,” says Dr Sonda Laroussi, an olive oil expert based in Sfax, a coastal city in central Tunisia. “It's our culture and savoir-faire, and part of our everyday life. The history of olive oil is our own history.”
“There are two main olive varieties in Tunisia,” explains Dr Laroussi. “Chetoui is from the north and has a very green and grassy taste with hints of artichoke. It's a quality oil with character. Chemlali is more fruity and has hints of green almonds. It goes with everything and is not too dominating in dishes.”
[Photo by Citizen59 | Flickr]