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Dr. Gino Celletti’s 36 Truths About Olive Oil (Forward by Fairway’s Steve Jenkins)

We talk about wine and we talk about food, and about both we go into great detail.

But not with olive oil.  It would seem we want to remain ignorant about olive oil.

Here at Fairway, we are learning more about olive oil every week, and after 40 years of thinking about food, we finally realize we have ignored the single-most important food in our lives.

Even the most famous chefs are almost totally ignorant about olive oil.

Rest assured your Fairway olive oil-lovers are trying to teach you all they have learned, all they continue to learn on a weekly basis.  There is no food nutritional subject that even approaches the cruciality of learning about olive oil.

Let’s start with the ‘TRUTHS’ about olive oil, as written by the legendary, industry-leading, guiding light, Milano-resident  Dr. Gino Celletti, author of the brilliant ‘MONOCULTIVAR OLIVE OIL, the perfect olive oil’.  Dr. Celletti was recently the Chief Judge of the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest olive oil event.  His book, Monocultivar Olive Oil, The Perfect Olive Oil, contains these ‘truths’.


There isn’t any olive oil inside an olive.  It isn’t like making orange juice; if only it was as simple as the ads make it sound.


Green olives and black olives do not exist.  Unlike grapes, all olives are green at the beginning, and as they ripen they all become black.


And if olives are allowed to turn black, they get angry.  And if they could talk, they’d be swearing.


If an olive is “virgin”, it has already had sex.  We all are born virgins, but olive oil, if it’s born as a “virgin” by law, it may have already had sex for 35% of its life.  The EU Regulation EC 640/2008, on a scale of 0 to 10, allows for up to 3.5 defects.


The first press doesn’t exist, and neither does the 2nd nor the 3rd.  There can only be one press, and re-grinding the pomace is illegal.  Have you ever seen “wine from the first press”?  No!  And it is the same for olive oil.  So why do they continue to say ‘first-press olive oil’?


“Cold-press” doesn’t exist.  The pressing room is “warm”.  SO warm, in fact, that if we were at the seaside, we could go for a swim, and if it were any less warm we couldn’t extract even a single drop of olive oil.


“Extra-virgin” is not the 1st press.  “Olive oil” is not the 2nd press.  “Pomace and olive oil” is not the 3rd press.


Genuineness isn’t quality.  Too many shysters sell genuine, but not quality olive oil.  The consumer is confused by the two concepts, and is deceived.

Healthy Olive OilTRUTH #9

Adulteration is not sophistication.  This technical data is not just for a government’s bureaucrat chemists; it is for all of us.  It is better to know what they are saying or telling us.


Always taste before using.   Why do we always taste wine, but never olive oil?


If you sense aromas with your nose why is it called aftertaste?  If you sense it with your nose it is smell, and therefore better to say aftersmell.


The flavors coffee, strawberry, mint?  They do not exist.  What you are sensing in your mouth are really the aromas of coffee, strawberry and mint through your nose.  They are not from “taste”, but “smell”.  Never say “mint-taste” again.


Extra-virgin olive oil must have a scent.  If it doesn’t, it must not be chosen.  Learn how to sample olive oil; protect your family.  Frauds are ever-present.


“Good” olive oil must be spicy; the more the better.  Anti-oxidants are spicy.  Consumers in the north of Europe tend not to like them, but they are the reason olive oil is healthy.


“Good” olive oil must be spicy.  If it isn’t, it’s a fraud.  It means that it hasn’t come from olives, or it’s been washed.  It’s either a scam or just cheap.


If you smell a defect, it isn’t extra-virgin.  When tested, extra-virgin olive oil by law cannot have any defects.  Despite that, defective oils are sold everywhere (particularly in American supermarkets and specialty food stores).


If your olive oil is bitter, thank the person who gave it to you.  Bitterness is not a defect, but rather a positive characteristic.  Olive oil can be sweet or bitter just as wine can be red or white.


A green color in olive oil is not a sign of quality.  Instead, it could be a scam.  Olive oil-tasters test olive oil in blue or brown glasses so as not to be influenced by the color.


Olive oil should not be odorless, colorless or tasteless.  If it is, we are denying the consumer his expectations of health.


You cannot assess an olive oil’s acidity with your mouth.  If someone is claiming to do so, they are either a scam artist or … bionic.


Why do you put salt and pepper on olive oil, yet not in wine?  Perhaps because the olive oil you are using has no taste?  With an early-harvest monocultivar olive oil, salt and pepper are not necessary.


Olive oil makes you gain weight just like pasta, bread, sweets, beer, wine, sodas, cocktails and French fries, but unlike the others, it keeps you young.  And so you might not want a croissant and cappuccino anymore; instead for breakfast a bruschetta with olive oil, tomato and basil.


Better olive oil’s visible fat than a hidden killer that tastes like butter, but isn’t.  Invisible fats are often hydrogenated.  Margarine and “trans-fatty acids” increase the risk of stroke.  Olive oil contains no cholesterol, and works to help reduce it.


An olive oil that solidifies at low temperature?  Is it a rip-off, ruined, or changed?  NO!


And my cousin’s olive oil?  The most likely rip-off of all.  The farmer’s olive oil, the one you picked up during your vacation, and my cousin’s olive oil, all have the same common denominator:  RIP-OFF.  “Genuineness” is different from quality.  It is this “sweet”, never spicy olive oil which has traveled to the refinery, that has mis-educated the consumer.  Family means trust, but it certainly does not guarantee quality.  If your cousin, in good faith, uses the same olive oil at home, even he is being fooled.


Oil for your car at 20 euro per liter and olive oil for your mind and body at 2 euro per liter?  The oil for your car costs ten times more than the olive oil for your mind and body.  If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will.


All olive trees are not the same.  There are 1584 varieties of olive trees, or “cultivars”, in the world.  In Italy alone, there are 638, almost 40%!  But nobody cares about this immense fortune.


MONOCULTIVAR  OLIVE OIL – the perfect olive oil; it is harvested at the first color change.  A SINGLE VARIETY, in a controlled chain, crushed in a modified atmosphere, zero defects.


MONOCULTIVAR OLIVE OIL is REAL anti-fraud!  DNA research of a single cultivar from the bottle has been successfully tested.  Now you can pinpoint the botanical origin of a monocultivar olive oil.  There are many who won’t like this.


What’s your yield – in crap?  As long as there are producers who think in terms of “yield”, refined olive oil is OK.  At least you are saving money.  Remember:  The earlier the harvest, the better-tasting and healthier the olive oil AND the lower the yield.  The later the harvest, the LESS good-tasting the olive oil, the LESS-healthy the olive oil, yet the higher the yield.  Are you beginning to get it?


Why spend 1,000,000 euro to buy a modern olive mill if you can just “squeeze” the olives by hand?  Some media messages do nothing to educate consumers about the pricing of quality olive oil.  To produce “very good” olive oil, you need to spend a lot of money.


Stoned olive oil is like boneless fish and boneless ham.


It’s on the label, but it’s in tiny print.  We cannot prevent being overrun by bad foreign oil.  We cannot prevent these blends being made in Italy and sold abroad with an Italian brand, as if we were agents for foreign countries.  We are immensely proud of our house blends, and because we know olive oil, they  are as good as we can possibly make them.  We do this to offer very good, very low-priced olive oil.  But if we were really true to our school we would never allow blended olive oil in our stores.

Olive Oil and OlivesTRUTH #34

Every loophole has a law.  No, it’s not a typo; in this case the reversed aphorism is correct.  For far too long, defective olive oils have been put on the market with undefined regulations.  So terrible oils, obtained from terrible olives, grown in terrible conditions have been stopped at our borders by a sacred European Community law that accepts defective EVOO and yet also defines the values?  Insane.


Polyphenols are finally legally on the label.  After requesting it for 20 years they (the EC bureaucrats) finally gave in, but it could have been done better.  Polyphenols are the wonderfully bitter anti-oxidants that are the hallmark of early harvest, monocultivar olive oils.  Polyphenols are the reason for olive oil to exist — for flavor, in order to translate other foods’ flavors, in order to allow us to live longer disease-free lives.


Rancid (oxidized) olive oils are bad for you, and consumers can easily understand that if it is explained to them.




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