Results tagged “olive oil”

Beetroot gazpacho

This twist on the traditional Spanish tomato and bread soup was inspired by a delicious beetroot version I had at La Taberna del Pindal in Arenas de Cabrales in Asturias, Spain.  The trick is to roast half the beetroot to bring out its lush sweetness, and grate the other half raw to keep its vibrant colour and fresh taste. Combined with the usual tomatoes, peppers and onions it makes a fantastic purple gazpacho, which is even better the day after it’s made, when the sweet, sour, earthy and bright flavours really seem to sing together.  So, if possible, start this recipe one or two days ahead. I used sourdough rye bread as it’s what I had, and it seemed right with beetroot, in a northern European sort of way.


Green bean zeytinyağlı

I learnt this dish while staying with Zeliha İrez, an amazing cook who runs a guesthouse in Turkey.  Zeliha uses a pressure cooker to speed things up.  If you don’t have one, try to leave the beans gently cooking for five or more hours. 

Zeytinyağlı foods are a family of vegetable dishes which are cooked in olive oil.  They are common in western Turkey, where olive trees grow.  The beauty of the dish is that everything goes in the pot together and then requires little attention.


Oil, vinegar and phonological assimilation

morocco, spain

Some olives in Morocco. Although they could
just as easily be in Spain.

I'd always wondered why the oil and vinegar seemed to be labelled wrong in Spain.  If, like me, you're more familiar with Italian than Spanish, and you see two bottles on the table, one labelled "aceite", you'd be pretty sure that was the vinegar.  You'd be wrong, though - although admittedly you'd work it out pretty sharpish if you saw that the other one was labelled "vinagre".  Or just tasted it, I suppose.

The Italian aceto (vinegar) comes from the Latin acer meaning 'sharp' or 'sour', and that's where we get English words like acid and acetic from too.  (Even the word vinegar comes this way, in fact, via the French vin aigre or 'sour wine').  Similarly, the word for 'oil' seems to have Latin origins in most European languages - the Latin oleum gives us oglio, oil, Öl, huile and so on.  So why would Spanish (a Romance, i.e. Latin-based language) be so different, and where does their word for 'oil', aceite, come from?  Well, now that we've made it to Morocco, all becomes clear ...

Black and green and red all over

Smbarnabyoliveshower0001.jpgToday Barnaby was sitting under a tree in Morocco, minding his own business, when what should hit him but a shower of olives!  

Way back in May in Turkey, he'd seen little flower buds on the olive trees.  By the time he got to Greece the flowers were out.  Then in Italy he saw actual olives, although they were way too small and hard to eat.  Even in Spain in September, they looked ripe but weren't quite ready.  Finally, he thought - they're falling off!

Smbarnabyblackolives0001.JPGBut when he took a closer look he realised they weren't.  There were wrinkly black ones, shiny fat purple ones, and hard green ones - all coming from the same tree.  And in fact, there were ladders.  With people up them, pulling the olives off the branches by hand.  He thought maybe they were picking them too soon, but when he asked, they told him that it's best this way - they wanted all three colours to cure and to make tasty olive oil with.

And when he tasted one, he found out they're still too bitter to eat!  He's just going to have to wait until they're cured.

Aubergine cooked with olive oil

The aubergine (patlıcan) must be the Turks’ favourite vegetable.  It is prepared 100 different ways and features in appetizers, mains and even desserts.  The zeytinyağlı method of cooking is common in western Turkey, along the Aegean coast where olive oil is plentiful.  

Copy (1) of Smzelispazaraubergines0001.JPGPatlıcan zeytinyağlı could be served as an appetizer, lunch dish or accompaniment to meat.  In Turkey it would be a meze, with which you would drink rakı turned cloudy with water.  The recipe comes from the wonderful Zeliha Irez, who runs a superb guesthouse in the hills east of Istanbul.


Culinary Anthropologist