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Stevarino

Olive Oil For Dipping

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I'm not sure why dipping bread in olive oil has to be an odious practice all the time , involving bread completely submerged in a bucket of bad oil with bad flavorings added to it. I'm certainly not in the industry and usually don't go to places where this is done, but I've drizzled a bit of very good oil on a plate and served it with my own naturally leavened bread (which I normally eat without any addition and have a great amount of pride in) for guests. Sometimes I might even add a spring of rosemary to the raw oil to scent it. When I do this, I'm not thinking of what is done in what region of Europe or the practice's historical ramifications. I do it because a bit of oil, drizzled or dipped with a little bit of oil is a luxury. It doesn't have to be a practice tainted with consum(er)ism, even if it usually is. A restaurant could do this well or do it poorly, in which case they ought to be judged accordingly. The practice in itself is not intrinsically in bad taste, wrong, pretentious, etc., though it could be.


josh

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With regard to Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Greece - as Zorba might say it There is no greater sin than a day without olive oil, garlic, bread and wine".  And so it has been since the days of Odysseus.

And yes, I do consider the coarse salt a fine addition indeed!

They do it in parts of Turkey, especially with breakfast; dip the bread into the oil, then into the zatar. Not so much "before a meal" but as part of it.

I have to disagree with one poster about bread that's "good enough" not needing anything else. That sounds to me like a comment from someone in a place where bread is mostly of poor quality and good bread is a special treat. Here you can find bad bread but there is still so much good bread around that it's simply expected, and it's something to be eaten with food, not before the food -- with cheese, jam, spreads, etc. It's one part of a great combination. Isn't a good sandwich better if the bread's good too? (What really used to get my goat in Seattle was going to Greek restaurants and finding they had NO BREAD! Only fried pitta. As if Greeks sit around eating fried pitta all the time. Fried pitta is what you put gyros in. It's like going to an American restaurant and being served hot dog buns. How can you eat a nice plate of moussaka with no thick, spongy bread to eat with it? But this is off topic. However it does give me an idea for a thread.)


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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A friend of mine who lived in Spain for many years said it was routine to dip bread in a plate of olive oil, balsamic and sea salt. Could that be where it started?

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I love it when it is good ..good bread good olive oil and even dip it at home when I bake my bread while it is warm taste the crusts dipped in good olive oil... ..but when it is bad ..it is really bad ....I always take a tiny taste of each alone first and then figure out if I want to dip ...sometimes it is great bread lousy oil sometimes lousy bread great oil ...when both happen to be good it is really nice I think

I do not see it as faddy or pretentious unless it is lousy!


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Sorry to be the myth-buster once again, but the serving of olive oil and bread is not at all a new habit, being documented during the reign of Herod at his palace at Massada and at the home of Lucullus.  It seems the Romans (noble or otherwise) were wise enough to realize that imbibing a bit of olive oil before setting down to serious drinking would slow down the intoxication process.  They may not have known about blood circulation but they did know that coating the stomach with oil or buttermilk somehow let the alcohol get to the brain a bit more slowly.

As to Italy, serving olive oil with bread has been a la mode in Sicily and in Campania at least since the 13th century, and later came into fashion with the Medicis in both Rome and Florence.  True, the habit never made its way to restaurants but was and still is traditional in many homes.  With regard to France, bread was often served with olive oil during the reign of Adolphe Duglere at Cafe Anglais (take a good look at Babette's Feast and you will see olive oil on the table and at least the General dipping his bread into it).

With regard to Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Greece - as Zorba might say it There is no greater sin than a day without olive oil, garlic, bread and wine".  And so it has been since the days of Odysseus.

And yes, I do consider the coarse salt a fine addition indeed!

And I've seen several reports and documentaries and features on television regarding the manufacture of olive oil.

So how do the folks standing around the big vats sample the various pressings?

Why, they dip bread into it, of course.

You know, just like the rest of us that love good bread and good olive oil.

:cool:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't think anyone is asserting that people shouldn't dip bread into oil. This thread is about the practice at restaurants, and specifically about adding things to the oil.

I don't think it's an inherently bad idea, but the places that do it always end up being subpar. I don't actually see this very often (I pick my Italian very carefully), but when I do, it's a red flag. This just happened to me in Boston-I thought I'd chosen an Italian place where I might get real Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) food, but as soon as the oil with the garlic and chile flakes hit the table, I knew I would be disappointed.

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We had it that way at some Italian restaurant or other, and Chris likes it. We've tried it with Ligurian (because I'm infatuated with Nigella's slow, chocolaty purr of "Lee-gour-ian"), but that one, though expensive, had a little bit of bitter aftertaste. Better for Caprese with a splash of Balsamic.

Umbrian is the one he likes best, and just tonight, I cleaver-whacked and peeled a nice fat shiny clove of garlic, gave it a sprinkly pinch of glisteny seasalt, smeared it to a nice chunky pulp, added it to a little dish of the Umbrian.

A couple of hefty hunks ripped from a baguette so as to create those lovely stalactites of crumb, the feathery tips dipped into the oil---lovely to contemplate, lovely to eat.

We don't pay much attention to fashion---wardrobe or culinary---and occasionally we hit on something that we really like. Do people REALLY taste something, like it, and yet eschew it because it's incorrect or not traditional, or just "not done?" I can't get my mind around that.

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I don't think anyone is asserting that people shouldn't dip bread into oil. This thread is about the practice at restaurants, and specifically about adding things to the oil.

I don't think it's an inherently bad idea, but the places that do it always end up being subpar. I don't actually see this very often (I pick my Italian very carefully), but when I do, it's a red flag. This just happened to me in Boston-I thought I'd chosen an Italian place where I might get real Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) food, but as soon as the oil with the garlic and chile flakes hit the table, I knew I would be disappointed.

Oh.

Well.

Okay.

I like that, too. Bread dipped in oil with some herbs and chile flakes. Why not. A little trendy and silly, maybe. But so what. Not sure it's deserving of words like "pathetic."

My advice to folks that dislike it because they fill up on bread and oil is not to eat so much.

And as for the bread and oil thing letting you know you're going to be disappointed in the entire meal, I think that's a good thing. Armed with that certainty, you can simply call the restaurant in question in advance and ask if they serve bread and oil. And if they do, you don't even have to show up to sample the rest of their menu. Because you already know.

A real time- and money-saver if you ask me.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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So many people rave about the Mediterranean Diet that it is somewhat amusing to see the most staple of all food items now poo-poohed.  The use of fine olive oil, perhaps with a few drops of Balsamico added (no herbs, no Parmesan) has been considered a delicacy in this part of the world since the days of the Caesars.  Serve a bit of fine coarse Brittany or other sea salt alongside for those who like it and you have a feast fit for the gods.

And on the off chance that olive oil doesn't make it for you, consider instead of or alongside the butter, a fine aioli.

I tried it this way and it was wonderful. As always, Daniel Rogov rules!!!!!


Edited by Naftal (log)

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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Many of us understand that EVOO on its own should not be adulterated, distracting our attention from its own unique subtleties. Quality olive oil drizzled over bread with a little sea salt is certainly sublime, but perhaps too simple in the eyes of most. (I have been over ruled for my lack of imagination.)

Of course it depends on what extra virgin oil ... I'm starting to think the designation hardly means anything anymore, since the range of price and quality within it is so huge. My local ghetto supermarket sells ONLY extra virgin oil. The oil I use for sautéing is their cheapest variety. To its credit it isn't half bad ... but it's no delicacy.

I find even among the good oils that some just don't taste good to me. The best olive oils are often marked by an assertive flavor, which may or may not be one you want to slather on your bread. I like the fruity and spicy ones; some restaurants have served me very bitter ones that I don't care for with the bread.

I have to admit that I've enjoyed some of the herb/chili infused oils I've been served at restaurants. But in a perfect world I'd take great bread with plain, great oil or butter.


Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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