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Swim me in olive oil.Drown me in its virgin depths

Way back when -- back in 1969 -- when I was working in  a bank (one of my many career moves often as not within each year) I used to eat lunch in a Greek Taverna on Lonsdale Street Melbourne:  that city's Greek Town. 

(More  Greek then  than now).

I frequented this  premises often enough to consume my way through its whole menu at least twice. It was very traditional  Greek  fare of the kind you won't find today a la carte: always beans ('legumes' for the aficionado)  and vegetables with some meats...swimming, drowned,  in olive oil.

Great stuff. Value for dollar, sit down fare before the Takeaway mentality set in. 

I kept coming back even though each plate full was awash with the swill of olive oil. It was almost an olive oil soup.

But as the seventies kicked in 'fat' and 'oil' became ingredient non grata  and we were encouraged to ration how much oil we added to a dish and put into our mouths.

The ruling wisdom was -- and stil is -- to cut down on your fat intake as the  'science of nutrition' asserted itself and ruled the dinner table.

It is however very ironic that  the 'diet' which is credited by research to be  the most 'healthful' on the planet is the Greek cuisine from the island of Crete.

...and in the traditional Cretan diet, olive oil consumption is a whopping 25 kilograms per person per year. In such a diet fat accounts for up to 40% of the energy (calories)  consumed.

In Australia current consumption of olive oil  is still  less than  2 kilograms per head per annum.

I'm not saying that olive oil is a miracle food -- but the research suggests that  it  is misunderstood tucker or at least uncelebrated.

I always cook with olive oil -- with extra virgin olive oil in fact. Recently however, my dose of 'olive oil taken in moderation' has increased and I've become an olive oil chef.

Instead of frying you need to sweat stuff in olive oil and sweating is an art worth learning. While it may seem easy to burn the solid ingredients, dial back the heat --  you want to stew your stuff so that  flavours marry. 

It's slow food -- a very long way from cooking chips.

Cooking using oil from olives isn't a tool -- like using water or heat --  but an ingredient in its own right.

To partake of this option -- do this:
  1. Pour at least one third to half a cup of olive oil into a pan and gently heat.
  2. Add sliced or chopped garlic and sweat.
  3. Throw in diced carrots, sliced celery, chopped capsicum or cabbage.
  4. Sweat. Stirring occasionally. (This is just like Asiatic stir frying but at much lower temperatures).
  5. Sweat. Don't burn. Don't boil. Think sauna: naked vegetables perspiring until they go limp.
  6. Add a herb of your choice, salt and pepper. Stir.
  7. Eat. 
You can add a meat en route if you want but not one that requires a lot of cooking -- eg: use anchovies, ham, bacon, or finely diced pork or chicken.

Drowning in olive oil like this is not the end of the nutritional universe. But you do need to be 'heavy handed' when slurping the oil.

Think drowning.

Without adding grains -- or meat or eggs or fish -- stewing vegetables in olive oil like this can deliver a meal in its own right that offers enough calories (and certainly enough taste) for sustenance. Add legumes or eggs or cheese or yogurt -- as the Cretans do -- and you're in compleat nutrition --all-major-foodgroups --mode.

And it's low carb. 

Does wonders for the blood sugar.





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