"Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lampante"

(Can you spot the terra-cotta oil lamp?)

On the routine visits I had to the supermarkets in Taiwan and China, I came across huge aisles with all sort of oils. Some things I saw there I was not aware that could produce any oil, others I did not even know that existed.

Scrolling across the aisles I came across a selection of olive oils.
Amongst the different labels and grades I noticed the beautifully labeled "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lampante - Made in Italy" (I came across a lot of Virgin Olive Oil Lampante, but never across "Extra..."). If I did not know better I would think this would taste as good as it sounded.

Unfortunately next to me was a Chinese lady that did not know much better.

Intrigued as to why and how the Chinese buy their olive oil my friend and I asked her why she was choosing the (cheap!) "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lampante". Apparently the lady was visiting some "healthy food" seminar where she was told that Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy is the best (try telling that to the Spanish, French....Israelis and Greeks). The fact that the description on the label mentioned "Lampante" did not bother her much (was it not translated on purpose?).

My friend and I quickly told her that the nutritional values of "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lampante" and its other sibbling extra olive oil are unlikely to be exactly the same... . As for taste - never argue about it.

Browsing among the supermarket aisles in Asia, it is pretty obvious that one can get away with almost everything written on the label. This is not -in theory-the case with countries member in the International Olive Oil Council. This is not to say that there is nothing fishy going on in these countries (but this is for a different day)!
As a result of the lack of clear labelling and lack of knowledge, customers are likely to pay too much for bad cheap things at the best case scenario and pay with their health at the worst one.

As a rule of thumb you can get bad olive oil expensive, but never good one cheap.

Virgin Olive Oil Lampante: Lamp oil - do not eat! Off-taste and/or off-smelling virgin olive oil. Usually used in the industrial market. For refining or technical use.


~ Phyll said...

Wait, are you saying that lamp and industrial oil is being sold in that supermarket in the same shelf as food grade oil without proper warning, translation, etc.?

Ido said...

Yeep. Lack of regulations.
When you hear what the olive oil suppliers want and how they talk you will not be suprised.

I guess where there is lack of regulation you can write what ever you want more or less.

~ Phyll said...

Incredulous! Bastards! (Not you, Ido).

TeaMasters said...

In this case, what is extraordinary is that the product actually says what it is! Thanks for explaining and emphasizing the meaning of 'Lampante' in connection with oil.

I'm not sure regulation is the answer. Customer awareness and taste buds are more important, I think. Experience is also important: before tasting the different olive oils you brought me, I had never thought olive oil was so good and diverse. This experience has ruined the olive oil I used to have in my kitchen. I felt it smelt like olive, now I can only feel its industrial mix.

Ido said...

"Makor Rishon" an Israeli news paper published an article on the 1st Dec 2006 about olive oils. The headline read "40% of the olive oil on the market is fake".

This is the situation in an olive producing country...imagine how bad its everywhere else... . The customers here are not world experts about olive oil, but they are more likely to be then your avarage Lee.

Italy by the way according to data I have from 2003 was consuming more oil then it produces. Where do you think all this "Italian" olive oil you come across actually comes from? (Greece, Spain...). Olive oil business is not only figuratively run like by mafia (do I have to start watching out now?).

Find a supplier you can trust. Same as with tea and wine... .

~ Phyll said...

Ido, I am on a mailing list of different Californian wineries where I usually get seasonal offers. One winery that also grows olive oil next to its vineyards is Araujo (one of the top wineries in Napa Valley). I usually don't really care for their olive oil...but now I'm curious because of you. Maybe when I get their next offer (not sure when the next one is going to be sent out) I will grab 2 bottles. One for me and one for you...see what you think about it since you are an expert. CA is not an olive oil producer, but this winery happens to be an artisanal business.

Ido said...

Phyll first of all thank you for the kind suggestion. I never had olive oil from California. As you said it is a new region to olive oil.
As for the "master" I sincerely hope its your kind of joking on 1st April.
I will send you an email for your address. I have something I want you and others to taste.

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