Dipped in Olive Oil

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,209
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#31
So, I love dipping bread in olive oil with a little herbs. It was something I discovered at an Italian restaurant here in the US, and was surprized to learn that they DON'T do that in Italy (and are usually very annoyed when you expect it). I gather they don't usually serve bread before a meal either. (Though they do sometimes coat bread in olive oil and herbs).

But, I have read that ancient people in Rome did sometimes dip their bread in olive oil. I am trying to find out if they did that in ancient Greece too. I know they had olive oil, and bread and various herbs that would go nicely in it. I know they dipped their bread in wine. I've found some sites saying they did but they are sort of...well, sites that might get it wrong (blogs and such that might not do very good historical research). I'm wondering what other places had this practice of dipping olive oil in bread in ancient times (or even later...like up through the 1600s). I'm involved in living history projects for kids, and mixing olive oil with spices that various places has is a fun activity, but I don't want to be passing on bad information.
It's not totally correct we don't do that in Italy.

We do something similar which I adored when I was a child: bread with oil on and a bit of salt ["pane olio e sale"]. Here bread with oil is a snack [you can add what you want, as said, I prefer salt].
 
Likes: Todd Feinman

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,606
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#34
I don't know if our guys on the coast do it (I guess they might). Here we use pumpkin seed oil for stuff like that. Well, for salads, cheese, vegetables or perhaps a soup, not really for dipping bread into it.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,209
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#35
As an aside note, I've got some difficulties to say how many liters of olive oil I get per year.

The point is simple: wealthy Italians put olive oil everywhere [not on sweets! :cool: Usually ... there are exceptions!]. Not wealthy Italians use corn oil [it costs well less].

A curiosity: since Italian men tend to date women cooking for them, the usage of olive oil works better .... ;)
 
Oct 2014
151
California, USA
#36
It's not totally correct we don't do that in Italy.

We do something similar which I adored when I was a child: bread with oil on and a bit of salt ["pane olio e sale"]. Here bread with oil is a snack [you can add what you want, as said, I prefer salt].

Yeah, the article I read was specifically about restaurants, not at home...so this makes sense. And they did say it was sometimes spread on bread, but that most restaurants in Italy didn't serve is with bread as a dip because it's messy (people dripping oil on the table) and olive oil is expensive.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,209
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#37
Yeah, the article I read was specifically about restaurants, not at home...so this makes sense. And they did say it was sometimes spread on bread, but that most restaurants in Italy didn't serve is with bread as a dip because it's messy (people dripping oil on the table) and olive oil is expensive.
Correct: Italian restaurants are a superior level, with a lot of stars ...

But Italy has got a really astonishing treasure of popular recipes [which are not offered by restaurants ... they consider them "miserable"]. I could add the fantastic "milk and rice" or the soup of bread which is typical of my region [Piedmont]. I live in a touristic town on an Alpine Lake and I think that to tourists coming from all the rest of the planet we should offer also our local cuisine. But market rules are market rules ... we offer to tourists what they expect ...
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,453
Athens, Greece
#38
It's not totally correct we don't do that in Italy.

We do something similar which I adored when I was a child: bread with oil on and a bit of salt ["pane olio e sale"]. Here bread with oil is a snack [you can add what you want, as said, I prefer salt].
My grandma, in a poor agrarian village, used to serve us bread with olive oil sprinkled with sugar. It was a quick dessert, in times when people were much poorer and sweets were neither as readily available, nor as cheap as today. I still have that taste in my mouth; not that great, but not totally unpleasant either.

Regarding the OP, we don't dip our bread in olive oil here in Greece either, even though we use olive oil in everything that has to do with food (Greeks are the top consumers of olive oil per capita in the world, by far). In restaurants and tavernas, olive oil is usually available on the table to use freely, and olives are often served as an appetizer. There is an old custom to serve mildly roasted bread (makes it crunchy) sprinkled with olive oil and often oregano, when accompanying fire-roasted meat though.
 
Likes: xander.XVII
Jan 2010
4,418
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#39
I seem to recall reading from WW2, North Africa, the Germans and maybe the Italians, too, would eat bread and olive oil because in that heat it was impossible to keep butter or margerine from spoiling.
Northern Italians use butter; southern Italians olive oil.

Ancient Romans and Greeks used olive oil for everything. They ate it, cooked with it, rubbed their bodies with it . .
 
Oct 2009
3,523
San Diego
#40
So, I love dipping bread in olive oil with a little herbs. It was something I discovered at an Italian restaurant here in the US, and was surprized to learn that they DON'T do that in Italy (and are usually very annoyed when you expect it). I gather they don't usually serve bread before a meal either. (Though they do sometimes coat bread in olive oil and herbs).

But, I have read that ancient people in Rome did sometimes dip their bread in olive oil. I am trying to find out if they did that in ancient Greece too. I know they had olive oil, and bread and various herbs that would go nicely in it. I know they dipped their bread in wine. I've found some sites saying they did but they are sort of...well, sites that might get it wrong (blogs and such that might not do very good historical research). I'm wondering what other places had this practice of dipping olive oil in bread in ancient times (or even later...like up through the 1600s). I'm involved in living history projects for kids, and mixing olive oil with spices that various places has is a fun activity, but I don't want to be passing on bad information.
I don't know what part of italy you traveled in- but in tuscany they always serve bread with olive oil, salt and pepper. Some folks add a little balsamic vinegar to the dip.
They don't put herbs in it that I have seen.
Southern Italian cuisine is different than northern italy....I was in northern italy for 2 months and never saw red sauce even once.
 

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