I resent only being given the choice to put olive oil, and not butter, on my bread at restaurants. It’s not because I’m inherently opposed to olive oil because of my deep and abiding love for butter; it’s because restaurants don’t take care of their olive oil and it goes rancid.
Olive oil (and all cooking oil) goes rancid because of oxidation, or exposure to heat, air, and light. Does that sound like a restaurant to you? Because it does to me — olive oil is usually kept in clear (rather than dark) glass bottles, with an open spout, at room temperature, on tables. When oil oxidizes, it loses vitamins, but it also develops compounds that can be toxic, according to lipid specialists.
According to Olive Oil Times (god, I love niche magazines), the two main defects in olive oil are rancidity and fustiness. When olive oil is rancid, it tastes like crayons — and that’s what olive oil at restaurants usually tastes like. It’s hard for consumers to know the difference, though, because most of the straight olive oil we taste is already rancid, so we think that’s how it’s supposed to taste. Keep reading »