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Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing.It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has additional uses in some religions.

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These presses are estimated to have had output of between 1,000 and 3,000 tons of olive oil per season. Spain produced 1.7 million tonnes or 56% of world production.

Olive oil was common in ancient Greek and Roman cuisine. The next four largest producers – Italy, Greece, Tunisia, and Morocco – collectively produced less than half of Spain's annual total (table).

Olive trees were planted throughout the entire Mediterranean basin during evolution of the Roman Republic and Empire. In North America, Italian and Spanish olive oils are the best-known, and top-quality extra virgin olive oil from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are sold at high prices, often in prestige packaging. The United States produces olive oil in California, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia. The higher the temperature to which the olive oil is heated, the higher the risk of compromising its taste.

According to the historian Pliny the Elder, Italy had "excellent olive oil at reasonable prices" by the 1st century AD—"the best in the Mediterranean", he maintained. Olive oil is the main cooking oil in countries surrounding the Mediterranean, and it forms one of the three staple food plants of Mediterranean cuisine, the other two being wheat (as in pasta, bread, and couscous) and the grape, used as a dessert fruit and for wine. When extra virgin olive oil is heated above 210–216 °C (410–421 °F), depending on its free fatty acid content, the unrefined particles within the oil are burned. Also, the pronounced taste of extra virgin olive oil is not a taste most people like to associate with their deep fried foods.

According to Herodotus, Apollodorus, Plutarch, Pausanias, Ovid and other sources, the city of Athens obtained its name because Athenians considered olive oil essential, preferring the offering of the goddess Athena (an olive tree) over the offering of Poseidon (a spring of salt water gushing out of a cliff). Some 75% of Spain's production derives from the region of Andalucía, particularly within Jaén province which produces 70% of olive oil in Spain.

The Spartans and other Greeks used oil to rub themselves while exercising in the gymnasia. Australia now produces a substantial amount of olive oil.

Recent genetic studies suggest that species used by modern cultivators descend from multiple wild populations, but a detailed history of domestication is not yet forthcoming.

Olive trees and oil production in the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced to archives of the ancient city-state Ebla (2600–2240 BC), which were located on the outskirts of the Syrian city Aleppo.

Besides food, olive oil has been used for religious rituals, medicines, as a fuel in oil lamps, soap-making, and skin care application.

The Minoans used olive oil in religious ceremonies.

The oil became a principal product of the Minoan civilization, where it is thought to have represented wealth.

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