Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Olive Oil 101.01

I work for a pretty famous deli. I'm one part of a really amazing team which sells fully flavored, artisanal or traditionally made dry goods (you know, things in jars, bottles, cans, that sort of food). What sets the food I work with apart from the food found in any other store is best understood through an exercise: walk into a convenience store (the perfect example would be those pimples that pop up along highways with a free-for-any-gas-paying-customer restroom and a plexiglass cage for the employee to sit within); open your eyes to the food being sold there; pick up cans, look at the ingredients, think about how they're made; think about how the food is put into the package; imagine all the people who were involved in making this food and what their emotional connection to the food was; think about how much those people were respected and payed and why this can/bottle/jar/box costs as little as it does; reminisce about the last time you tasted this item and all the sensory memories you can recapture just by remembering its taste. Now, think of any item that could be sold in a convenience store that would capture similar feelings as those items.

We don't sell any of those things. The only intersection between the products sold in a convenience store and the products sold by this team of which I'm a part is that ubiquitous soft drink Copsi (or is it Pepske). Yes, they're expensive, if expensive means "not of poor quality" or "responsive to exacting standards."

I don't mean this as a slight against the other foods sold in the marketplace, that's just not what we do. Given that reality of my employer, however, there is a lot of food education that takes place and has to be maintained in the course of one's employment. One of the ideas bandied about is introducing a few more food classes, like Olive Oil 101, Mustards 101, Cheese 101, etc. I happen to be someone who really likes teaching and sharing information and who is passionate about food (hell, downright giddy sometimes), so I've wormed my way into being a part of this discussion.

I've been hesitant about the class, though, because on one level it's seemed shortsighted. If I took the time to really document my education about a particular food (which I'm more than willing to do since much of this learning is done on this series of tubes we call the internet), then I could make an Olive Oil 101 class available for anyone who wanted to read it by using a blog. It could be required reading for people who want to work for my employer and sell olive oil, but it could also just be available for anyone who happens to wind their way there. And to be perfectly honest, rather than teach the same Olive Oil 101 class 50 times, I'd like to create 50 different online tutorials about good food.

Wouldn't an online tutorial about Olive Oil be great! I get to set myself up as resident expert (since it is my blog), the comment sections can be used to clarify fine points for readers sometimes or even blossom into a new blog chapter of the tutorial, I can get opinions from other olive oil experts I work with (finer than I am I must say), and I might eventually post videos of olive oil tastings that we feature at the deli. mmmm, warm and fuzzy just thinking about it...

So that's my goal, my vision. Anything olive oil tutorial focused will be labeled "Olive Oil 101.x"

Eat fearlessly!