Olive oil on bread?

Apr 12th, 2002, 09:53 AM
  #1  
Mr.X
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Olive oil on bread?

Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant in the US, they always serve a dish of olive oil for the bread. When I went to Italy last month, nobody did this.

Is this one of those American food fictions that purports to be Italian, but isn't? Or is this custom only done at home? Just curious.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 09:57 AM
  #2  
Angela
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I've wondered that myself after coming back from Italy recently. But I did see a program about olive oil and one of the customs is to eat freshly baked bread with the first cold pressing of the olives.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #3  
Tom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We had it at virtually every restaurnat that my wife and I ate at in Italy. Perhaps we just went to differebt restaurants.

BTW. We think the French olive oil from Provence is the very best!
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #4  
Wayne
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
The so-called "authentic" Italian restaurants in the U.S. have all picked up this practice, usually placing the olive oil in a saucer and then sprinkling some crushed herbs into it for extra flavor. As many times as I have eaten in Italy, in all kinds of restaurants and in a few Italian homes, I have never seen this done. That doesn't mean that the practice doesn't exist somewhere in Italy; I just haven't ever seen it.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:08 AM
  #5  
elaine
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I was given the oil in a saucer in the places I ate in Rome for sure, can't recall it happening in Venice or Florence.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:10 AM
  #6  
Think of it
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Do Americans serve bread with butter at every meal? Or Mexicans, tortilla chips with salsa at every meal? Or the British scones with jam at every breakfast? Probably not, but each thing might be associated with the area. Everytime I go to a Mexican restaurant I expect chips and salsa, but it doesn't mean I expect it to be authentic--served at every meal in a true Mexican home.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:15 AM
  #7  
Kara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
This is an American practice but some restaurants in Italy and Greece are starting to oblige American patrons because it is requested.
Typically I have never seen this done without asking for oil at most restaurants.
Remember that slather of oil contains more fat than required. Even though it's not saturated fat it's still overkill for most diets. Maybe that's why Americans are for the most part more overweight than Europeans.
Not a slam just a fact and yes, I'm American.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:24 AM
  #8  
kate
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Example of why you should wear your glasses in dimly lit Italian restaurants:
Sitting in a cozy booth with my husband,they brought a little dish and put it right in front of me, then left the bread and went away.
I sat there talking to my husband, then put my hand down on the empty (I thought) dish....right into a puddle of olive oil.We each got our own little dish of oil, it made my hand soft and smooth
I wore my glasses for the rest of the meal~
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:33 AM
  #9  
venice
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'd never seen this until last year in a restaurant in Venice. The waiter brought bread to the tables as usual. I then saw a young American woman get up, go to the waiters' station and pick up a soup bowl. The head waiter looked daggers at her. She then put some olive oil and vinegar into the bowl and proceeded to dip her bread into it. When her main dish was brought, the waiter took the bowl away and although he said nothing, he looked displeased.
She then asked for cheese on I forget what dish it was but one where you don't normally have cheese sprinkled. When she was told politely that it was not customary she said loudly that she just wanted some cheese, right!
Her table was brought its bill at the same time as the food and the waiters didn't ask if they wanted coffee or dolci. The moral is, ask and don't just take.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:37 AM
  #10  
venice
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'd never seen this until last year in a restaurant in Venice. The waiter brought bread to the tables as usual. I then saw a young American woman get up, go to the waiters' station and pick up a soup bowl. The head waiter looked daggers at her. She then put some olive oil and vinegar into the bowl and proceeded to dip her bread into it. When her main dish was brought, the waiter took the bowl away and although he said nothing, he looked displeased.
She then asked for cheese on I forget what dish it was but one where you don't normally have cheese sprinkled. When she was told politely that it was not customary she said loudly that she just wanted some cheese, right!
Her table was brought its bill at the same time as the food and the waiters didn't ask if they wanted coffee or dolci. The moral is, ask and don't just take.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:47 AM
  #11  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
It depends on where you are in Italy. I can't tell you boundaries (watch Mario Batelli on FoodTV, he talks about this stuff all the time) but there's a definite geographic boundary where butter only is on bread as opposed to oil or visa-versa. I distinctly remember during my first trip in 1999 we had butter on the table for the bread (Northern Italy), but when we arrived in Lucca the waitress said "No butter - Oil!" She wouldn't even give us butter.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:51 AM
  #12  
Lesley
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We stayed recently with friends in Puglia who own olive groves that have been in their family for 300 years.This bread-dipping-into-olive-oil custom was once the thing in many southern Italian homes especially Puglia (Apullia) where olive oil was a big part of life and consequently needed to be tested on a regular basis to ensure it was still good. Until recently (when many North Americans starting asking for it) it was considered "not the done thing" according to our friends, although the custom had always prevailed in their home (minus herbs or salt) Their children had been taught not to ask for it in a restaurant or in the homes of their snobbier friends and the little ones giggled at us behind their hands at us for committing this sin of good manners. (P.S. we did it anyway and continue to back at home using ghe superb first pressing oil that we brought home from their farm, all 15 litres!)
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 10:59 AM
  #13  
lisa
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Venice -- she probably wanted cheese on a seafood dish. Americans seem to want to sprinkle grated cheese on every Italian dish. But it is a no-no to put cheese on seafood dishes (even seafood pasta). I've been in restaurants (in the US) where they will also refuse the cheese, but will leave it on your table to allow you to "destroy" the dish as you wish.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 12:31 PM
  #14  
Marilyn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I asked for butter in Lucca and was given olive oil for the bread, so I think it depends where you're at. In another little town the waiter went back to the kitchen and brought me a cube of butter hacked off a pound block. Marilyn
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 01:09 PM
  #15  
Meow
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Lisa

"Americans seem to want to sprinkle grated cheese on every Italian dish." Really, only Americans? All Americans? Fairly broad statement to make about citizens from an entire country, especially since I, an American, don't put grated cheese on much of anything. Nor do any of the other locals that I know.

Now hurry, Lisa, that bowl of milk is waiting for you.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 01:27 PM
  #16  
carol
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
When I was in Italy I don't recall having this, but this was then years ago. Food trends in Italy change just as they do here. For example, Fettucine Alfredo and Tira Misu are relatively modern inventions, from the last half of the 20th century. Another thing is that there are regional differences and differences between chefs. Spaghetti Carbonara is different in different areas of the country, as is Lasagne with meat. I also agree it depends on the quality of the restaurant you go to.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 02:04 PM
  #17  
Tom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Kara,

Beg to differ with you.

Olive oil is predominantly monosaturated fat which is the good stuff. It, along with fish is why the Med diet is so healthy.

It does contain calories, but unless you go "hog wild" it will help, rather than harm. A couple of tablespoons on a saucer will handle a good hunk of bread.

And BTW, this American eats it with almost every evening meal and is 6:3 188, have reduced my weight by 15 lbs and my cholesterol has been lowered from 289 to 211 in nine months.

I'm happy!

Thanks,
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 03:13 PM
  #18  
Kara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Tom
I agree with you but it's easy to overdo the bread and oil. I'm Greek and cook with olive oil on a daily basis (extra virgin only).
My point is that too much is not healthy. Yes, it does lower bad cholesterol but physicians are now saying that too much may also do harm.
Everything in moderation.
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 03:26 PM
  #19  
Tom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Kara,

Agree with you on the moderation.
My wife tells me that moderation is acceptable for most things except for drugs and adultery. And...she reminds me that I do not have enough money to try either becuase it will then all be hers ;~))
 
Apr 12th, 2002, 04:52 PM
  #20  
Kara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Tom,
Your wife sounds like a very smart and funny woman. I'm about to go out with my husband for Italian tonight and I will be eating warm bread and olive oil. Cheers.
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:05 PM.