Bra seems like a long way away from the Mediterranean and olive trees. However, I can find links to the sea and my favourite tree even here. As I was browsing shops in Bra yesterday I noticed a lot of products sotto olio (literally under oil). Funghi, alici, olive, and formaggi are just a few foods that are preserved in oil. This is an age old preservation method and traditionally olive oil was the most common oil. Nowadays, food tends to get preserved in all sorts of oils, mainly seed oils, which tend to be much more neutral. However, artichokes in olive oil, for example, have an exquisite taste that would be lost if any other oil were used.
I am curious to see if there will be many cheeses sotto olio next week in Bra. I know it may sound strange but this is also fairly common in most parts of Italy. In particular, fresh cheeses are put in oil so that they keep and so their soft consistency remains. In this area tomini, small soft white cows’ cheeses (see photo), are frequently used for this operation. I will investigate and let you know what I find.
To read more about my stay in Bra, Italy take a look at my personal web site. I am going to try to keep this blog focused on olive oil.