The element of olive oil can be both the foundation and the garnish for a variety of dishes. It’s the indispensable lubricant of every Italian-leaning kitchen. I’ve broken with many decades of tradition recently and bought a domestic brand of olive oil. I was skeptical when I started to read, and hear from friends, that a lot of the most popular brands of olive oil on the market (even ones that might originate in Italy, Greece or Spain) aren’t as pure as they are advertised to be. After reading from several different sources, as well as tasting directly from the bottle of the well-known brand I had in my kitchen, I’m a believer. Many are said to be cut with other oils like canola or sunflower or contain coloring agents that aren’t listed on the bottle. Considering how much of the stuff I use, and how many health benefits extra-virgin olive oil has, as well as the very negative effects of using sub-optimal oils at high cooking temperatures, I’ve decided to be a lot more finicky about my oil. I know that there’s countless varieties of high-quality olive oil out there, but they can be both pricey and hard to pick out of the crowd. This brand is what I’m using now. The taste and the smell are awesome-it’s got that nice spicy kick that creeps up on you when you down a teaspoon of it straight. The price is pretty decent too considering the heavy, darkened glass bottle. To gauge the quality and authenticity of your extra-virgin olive oil, look at the bottom of the bottle. There should be some pulpy stuff settled on the bottom. Non-Extra Virgin olive oil has been refined so it won’t have this stuff in the bottom. And oil that’s just posing as E.V.O.O. won’t have it either ’cause it’s fake. Give the bottle a shake to get those bits all up in your food. Real extra-virgin olive oil will also have a harvest date on the bottle, so you can gauge it’s freshness, and this tells you that the company actually tracks when the olives where picked, instead of just buying humongous quantities of oil at market and throwing it it a bottle without knowing where it’s from or how old it is. Has the whole world gone mad?!