The New American Olive Oil

Fran Gage, Author, Maren Caruso, Photographer . Stewart, Tabori & Chang $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-58479-754-8

Setting aside Spanish, Italian and Greek olive oils, Gage (Bread and Chocolate ) profiles 15 American producers and highlights olive oil’s merits to demonstrate the difference it makes in food and to emphasize that American oils can be as good as those from Europe. Gage’s brief portraits of different oil companies are engaging and informative: at the outset, she explains olive oil fundamentals—production, the industry’s American history, classification, food pairing—but the profiles bring it all to life as she describes visiting California groves and her conversations with the passionate people who run them. The recipes use olive oil both subtly (as in a red wine calamari stew) and overtly (mashed potatoes drizzled with olive oil, for example). The dishes, which generally require only intermediate kitchen skills (though sometimes above-average access to specialty ingredients, such as Persian lime olive oil), are mostly Mediterranean inspired, and in Gage’s detailed introductions she often recommends specific oil varieties to use. Home cooks will be glad to come across this appreciation of a versatile and delicious ingredient. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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