Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

by Tom Mueller

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"[Mueller reveals] the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and [teaches] readers how to sniff out the good stuff." —Dwight Garner, New York Times

For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life’s necessities—not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious rituals. But this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt. A superbly crafted combination of cultural history and food manifesto, Extra Virginity takes us on a journey through the world of olive oil, opening our eyes to olive oil’s rich past as well as to the fierce contemporary struggle between oil fraudsters of the globalized food industry and artisan producers whose oil truly deserves the name "extra virgin."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393083484
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/08/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 451,858
File size: 13 MB
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About the Author

Tom Mueller writes for The New Yorker and other publications. He lives in a medieval stone farmhouse surrounded by olive groves in the Ligurian countryside outside of Genoa, Italy.

Table of Contents

Prologue Essences 1

1 Olives and Lives 15

2 Oil Bosses 41

3 Olives Sacred and Profane 67

4 The Lovely Burn 89

5 Industrial Oil 111

6 Food Revolutions 131

7 New Worlds of Oil 159

Epilogue Mythologies 203

Glossary 207

Appendix Choosing Good Oil 221

Acknowledgments 231

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A Best History, Current Events, Contemporary Issues Audiobook of 2012. "[Narrator] Peter Ganim narrates with appropriate surprise, occasional outrage, and always energy and excitement. His excellent Italian and his deep base voice suit the text. His voicing of the many personalities Mueller interviews and even his reading of the glossary at the end are most entertaining...a must listen..." - SoundCommentary
"[Ganim's] voice lavishes the descriptions of beautiful landscapes of olive groves and delicious olive-oil-infused cuisine with audible love. He gives studied accents to the global range of olive oil producers, farmers, professors, and wholesalers, according to their country of origin." - AudioFile Magazine Starred review. "Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting, and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text." - Kirkus Reviews
3 out of 4 stars. "Mueller builds a convincing case...gives readers the tools to find honestly and lovingly produced product." - USA Today
"...engaging story..." - Publishers Weekly
"Extra Virginity promises a journey into the 'sublime and scandalous world of olive oil' and delivers on that promise. Readers of this book will never again look at olive oil in the same way." - New York Journal of Books
"a sparkling, stylish, sharply observed narrative that entertains and educates." - The Dallas Morning News
"Extra-virgin olive oil is glorious, complex and slippery...that's bountifully clear in Tom Mueller's expansive, fascinating exploration...Mueller manages to fuse the poetry and business of olives into a riveting tale that also sheds light on food politics more broadly. The growing legion of olive oil aficionados are destined to adore it, especially the useful index telling them how and where to buy." - Macleans
"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

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Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Caroline_J_Beck More than 1 year ago
There is no other fruit with a deeper history than the olive. With the publication of Extra Virginity, Tom Mueller has taken it to its bitter end and brings it back again. A book filled with twists and turns that would shame the best mystery writer, Mueller tells a riveting tale about an age-old staple. He explores both ends of the spectrum ¿ the dark, devious world of adulterated oil that has plagued the industry for centuries and a new host of characters from chemists to chefs who are trying to take extra virgin olive oil to a higher level. It is a story of two opposites: first-class quality doing battle with worldwide commodity pricing and big-money subsidies. Mueller, best known for his 2007 exposé on the world of adulterated olive oil in The New Yorker magazine, spent the last four years delving deep into the subject. When the stakes are as large as a rapidly growing, $1.5 billion business in the U.S. alone, it¿s understandable that Mueller would uncover an undercurrent of shady dealings. He introduces readers to a cast of characters from around the world. From ¿hero¿ archetypes like Paolo Pasquali of Villa Campestri in Tuscany, a former philosophy professor, who spearheads a new system to protect oil from tree to table to villainous players like Domenico Ribatti, whose illegal activity eventually led to a plea bargain in Italian court. Even Mark Twain gets a mention. Kudos to the well-deserved acknowledgement of Mike Madison¿s long years of diligence as a small-scale producer of first class oil. I was only disappointed that there was so little mention of many other ardent, honest and ethical growers in California who are toiling to see extra virgin olive oil gain its rightful place on the shelf. I hope Mueller gets to meet some of them before he completes a sequel. Caroline J. Beck, The Olive Oil Source
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this to be an absolutely fascinating book. It moved from the technical to the historical very well. I was caught up and found the trivia to be interesting to mind-boggling. I thoroughly recommend that anyone who considers them self a "foodie" to read this book. The realization that you had a better chance at unadulturated olive oil in the Roman empire then now should pop your eyes open! I am now permanently spoiled for supermarket olive oil and will give "Made in Italy" tags a good long, disbelieving look.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing introduction to a proclaimed healthful food. Intriguing, educational, and shocking. It opens a door to a new food world to explore, and shines a bright light on one of the most rampant bamboozlings I've never heard of. A very worthy read!
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NatashaLM More than 1 year ago
If you are an olive oil SNOB, or even if you just enjoy using GOOD, extra-virgin olive oil, this is a must-read! Learn how it gets to your table.
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