Last week, Brian and I had a “null” with an unexpected twist. As always, we started off by exploring the lively, Provencal market for our fresh produce to make a delicious lunch. On this day, however, our friendly French chef, Caroline, led us to a local olive oil shop, Oliviers & Co. on the nearby Rue Chabrier. It was an unexpected stop, but it turned out to be a fascinating experience and delightful addition to the day devotated to French cuisine and wine, of course!

Once we walked in, we marveled at the glistening bottles of green, gold, and yellow olive oil that lined the walls. In the center, there is a large wooden table where the shopkeepers give tastings of their products. Caroline knew the owners of the shop, so we got to enjoy an olive oil tasting! We were given little plastic spoons with about a teaspoon of olive oil. First, we learned to sniff the oil then we could taste. It was surprising how different they all tasted!

Some tasted very green, like fresh cut grass, while others had a very subtle flavor that was almost watery. Some were very bitter and you could detect a hint of artichoke, and other oils were more intense and they had a long aftertaste. Turns out that olive oil tasting is very similar to wine tasting, with so much variety to the types of olives and vast differences in the taste. Olive oil can even be aged- like wine- some up to 30 years old!

This unexpected cultural treat was a fascinating glimpse into the world of olive oil, which here in France, is loved and respected almost as much as their beloved wine!