In my house, olive oil is liquid gold. It doesn’t pay the bills yet, but I’m working on that.
The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all took full advantage of this prized oil. Cleopatra didn’t just bath in milk, she had olive oil spread all over her body and then scraped off. Obviously, she had no need for a moisturizer after that.
I developed my olive oil scrubs based on this concept, but went for a more DIY approach versus having servants comb your skin with scrapers. The idea of cleansing without a super sudsy soap is so foreign in our society, but the beauty of olive oil is that it congruently cleanses, moisturizes and nourishes your skin with the essentials it needs to be healthy.
I’ve always said, “when in doubt, put olive oil on your baby’s skin,” instead of that nasty, petroleum-based liquid disguised as baby oil. Actually, that goes for anyone needing a cheap moisturizer. Olive oil is high in antioxidants, including vitamin E. Antioxidants are powerhouses that protect against age-accelerating free radicals. The oil of this miraculous fruit promotes a smooth and radiant complexion, while helping maintain the elasticity of your skin. Everybody could use a little of that.
Olive oil certainly has its delectable culinary advantages too. It can impart a beautiful peppery, fruity taste to your fresh salad or serve as a perfect lubricant for sauteing while providing you with nourishing essential fatty acids.
Of course, not all olive oil is created equal, as Tom Mueller mentions in his book, Extra Virginity. Due to poor regulations, many olive oils sold in the U.S. aren’t what they claim. When buying olive oil, stick with 100 percent extra virgin from a reputable source. As mentioned in the Buyers Guide to Olive Oil in North America, “bitterness and pungency are usually indicators of an oil’s healthfulness. Sweetness and butteriness are often not.” This online guide is a work in progress, but lists some reputable olive oils and where they can be purchased by state.
Aside from its beauty and culinary benefits, olive oil can also be used to polish wood, condition leather, remove paint, fix a squeaky door, soothe a cough and ease an ear ache.
At the Agora Market in the Inn at the Black Olive in Fells Point, you can purchase a delicious organic Greek extra virgin olive oil in a reusable bottle–when your oil is gone, you just bring it back in for a refill–love that. They also have some wonderful artisanal olive oils that have been carefully sourced. In their eco-friendly Inn, they’ve gone as far as rubbing the limestone walls with olive oil to serve as a natural, chemical-free sealant.
What’s your favorite use for olive oil?