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Olio Capitale: Not all olive oils are the same

This is a golden time for extravirgin olive oil, which is living through the same experience as wine has witnessed over the last two decades. Attention has gradually focused in on what can best be defined as una pura spremuta di olive (a pure pressing of olives) – a simple but precise description, since the olive oil derived from olives is a natural product that can never be matched by other food oils obtained from working on seeds. What we have here is a "fruit oil", with all the implications in terms of nutritional and health values, but also when it comes to perfume and taste.

This takes us on to the all-involving celebration of the product, in the third edition of "Olio Capitale", in Trieste, scheduled from 6 to 9 March 2009, and organised by Fiera Trieste. Gourmet enthusiasts from round the world will be descending on the event, aware that following on from the success of the previous edition, this occasion is effectively becoming the established meeting point for anyone who appreciates or consumes this product.

As before, the Fair will not be restricted to rows of stands where businesses present their extravirgin olive oils, but will also offer a series of other interesting parallel initiatives and events for the diary. For example, there is the Oilbar, an innovative awareness-raising opportunity designed to enable public visitors to get to know the range of products of excellence found throughout the world, no matter what the provenance. Another strong point of this trade fair is its range of courses in tasting, given by expert tasters accompanied by oleologists – the new gurus in the art of using olive oil, and there will also be seminars that focus in on the olive and the oil, as well as specialist and generalist meetings on the very latest, and then courses on culinary techniques considering the correct use of the oils, whether for consumption "as is" or for use in cooking.

But there are even more ways of getting involved. Anyone is eligible to become a member of the "Olio Capitale" competition panels, which assign awards for excellence in extravirgin olive oils produced in the last year of production. Just ask to be a member and register (olio@fiera.trieste.it): this way, depending on role and profession, a member of the public can take part in either the panel of expert tasters (if requirements are met), or the panel of restaurateurs and chefs. In addition, anyone wishing to can become a member of the panel of consumers – including those unable to join the professional panels for simple reasons of numbers.

So, just a few months away, the third edition of "Olio Capitale" held in Trieste – capital city of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region – is ready to welcome anyone with an interest in extravirgin olive oil: "Olio Capitale", in partnership with the Cittΰ dell'Olio (cities of oil) association, will meet any demand, satisfy any curiosity, whether addressing the topic or the products themselves, whether interest is direct or indirect.

"This Fair isn't an end in itself, but open wide to the whole experience, " comments the president of Fiera Trieste Fulvio Bronzi. "It is truly the reference trade fair for quality extravirgin olive oils, open to everyone, and for everyone, without distinction, without any special preference for territory, because the only thing that counts is quality. And this is why the highly prestigious productions from olive-growing areas the world over will be present, in the awareness that today all areas of production are giving of their very best, partly through the immense assistance of the new technologies available."

Luigi Caricato, oleologist and editor of the weekly Teatro Naturale is in charge of the cultural and educational events. "Olio Capitale" has benefited from his long and solid experience as an expert in the field, and indications from the first two editions certainly leave no room for doubt: "gaining a culture about this product at its various levels is essential, " he notes. And continues: "At the Trieste salon, what dominate are exclusively the quality extravirgin olive oils. This diary appointment is vital – missing it would mean failure to tune in to developments. Succeeding in identifying and discovering the different ways each oil is able to express itself is a way of building up a new and very rewarding approach to food products. Not least because the oil that is furnished from the olive, " Luigi Caricato explains, "has today been transformed from an ethnic food product into one that is interethnic, valued as a nutritional food of high quality, indeed, a real functional food, as some of the more aware and informed nutritionists maintain. For this reason, extravirgin olive oils are used both to give that touch of healthiness, and simply to increase the pleasure of eating. So, " concludes Caricato, "the right product has to be selected, rather than basing choice on just the label. As has been the case for wine, the next step forward will be that everyone becomes a knowledgeable consumer, developing a solid appreciation of extravirgin olive oil."

So, on 6 to 9 March, Trieste is set to host not just a trade fair with exhibition of countless producers, not just involvement of gourmets, buyers and agro-food operators from north and east Europe, but a true gathering that can establish "Olio Capitale" as the location for determining trends in consumption and commercial choices – as is in fact already the case.



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