Sunday, July 22, 2012
Author: Tom Mueller
Enjoyment Rating: ** (2 1/2?)
Source: Audible for iTunes
Books I've read this year: 87
I used to read a lot of books about food. I used to cook a lot. I used to take cooking classes. I used to consider myself a foodie.
These days, I cook as little as humanly possible. Can a family of seven live on cheese quesadillas and diet coke? I think we're the test-case family. Somewhere between kid three and four, when I realized that kid one would only eat five things for the rest of his life and Ed really didn't care what we ate for dinner, I gave up. Sure, I still buy the cookbooks and thumb through them. I hide in the bathroom with Cooking Light every month and salivate over foods I'm not going to make. Then I come back to the kitchen and whip up a batch of spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese for dinner, with bread on the side for Bryce, who doesn't eat spaghetti. I'm mostly okay with it, at least until my mom visits and I decide I have to cook every once in a while, just to save face.
So how did I end up with Extra Virginity in my Audible queue? I'm not sure. I think it must have been a 2-for-1 sale. What did I gain from reading the book? A gigantic sense of inadequacy-- I can't tell a peppery oil from a mild one, and I'm pretty sure that the oil in my cupboard would be considered "lampante" oil not really fit for human consumption by oil connoisseurs. Mueller explores the history of olive oil, back to the birthplace of civilization, through biblical times, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance and into the modern era. He interviews dozens of (to me, indistinguishable) oil producers, and looks at the problems of living as an olive oil farmer, the scandals within the industry, and the benefits of using high quality oils.
I almost quit this book several times in the first half. It seemed pretty repetitive, and I felt that I was going to be preached to the entire time. And my assumptions were pretty much spot on. But I found that once I put the book on 1 1/2 speed, the book became much more entertaining. It almost convinced me to visit the local olive oil store, which is just down the street. Maybe. When my huge bottle of lampante is gone.