Favorite Ways to Eat Olive Oil: Ideas from Greece

Fish with vegetables and olive oil at a taverna by the sea in Crete
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Fish with vegetables and olive oil at a taverna by the sea in Crete. (Photo by Lisa Radinovsky)

What is your favorite way to use olive oil? A typical Greek eats more of this healthy liquid gold than anyone else in the world, so Greeks have plenty of suggestions. To help people who did not grow up in the midst of olive trees, Greek Liquid Gold asked several Greeks in the olive oil business, plus two prominent European chefs, for their ideas.

Some of the responses were unsurprising, while others were more unusual. Like most Greeks, Charalampos Papadellis “loves to eat olive oil with bread,” which “brings out the flavor and the fruitiness” of the oil (Papadellis Olive Oil). Many recommend using extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) raw “so that it does not lose its taste, its strong aromas, and its nutrients,” as Katerina Bougatsou points out. For example, Bougatsou notes, olive oil can be used “as a dressing for fresh salads, like the famous traditional Greek ‘horiatiki’ salad, or even with boiled vegetables,” including wild greens (Stalia Greek EVOO).

There are endless variations on the themes of olive oil and bread, and olive oil and salad. Manos Asmarianakis loves “to enjoy a special EVOO” on dakos, a salad made with traditional Cretan twice-baked bread (rusks) with fresh chopped tomato, oregano, and feta or mizithra cheese (Physis of Crete).

Gabriel Malet, the chef at the Spanish Embassy in Athens, suggests that “if we have tomato and olive oil, we don’t need to cook; we have a perfect meal, so rich and full of little details and finesse. As Greeks say, what I prefer about Greek salad is the ‘papara’ (soaked bread)—take bread and dip it in the oil with the rest of the liquids from feta and tomato, and see how it combines with oregano.”

Dominique Perrot, former chef for Francois Miterrand, is one of many who prefers to use the best EVOOs raw, especially in salads. In fact, he says “when we make salad with excellent olive oil, we don’t add vinegar or lemon.” Excellent olive oils can add their own distinctive flavor to salads and other dishes, including boiled eggs and grilled vegetables.

Valia Kelidou agrees: she believes extra virgin olive oil “is…

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