Puglia olive oil in Michelle Obama’s kitchen

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Published: 14th January 2013
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Puglia olive oil, with its thousand-year-old tradition, dresses Michelle Obama’s foods. Puglia, first olive oil producer in Italy, wanted to honour the American First Lady sending her a special olive oil resulting from pressing of the olives of a secular olive tree.

The following article will sketch a brief review about Puglia olive oil and the reasons that link this particular olive oil to the US President’s wife. In the conclusion it will provide a resource to find the best olive oil producers in Puglia.

If Italy is in the world the second producer and exporter of olive oil, Puglia olive oil is one of the most important one in Italy (as a matter of fact Puglia is the first producer of olive oil in Italy with almost 2.000.000 quintal a year). Puglia olive oil producers decided to honour the US First Lady, committed to promoting Mediterranean diet as antidote to obesity, oil extracted from olives of a specific tree in Lecce area.

Puglia olive oil dates back to Prehistory, as attested by archaeological findings of fossil olive tree leaves dating from Neolithic era (5000 B.C.) in Torre a Mare (Ba) and Fasano, south of Brindisi.
Nowadays, Puglia region hosts over 50 millions of olive trees producing olive oil strictly extra virgin (to be considered extra virgin, an olive oil has to have an acidity degree less than1 g. per 100 g.).

To be more specific, Puglia extra virgin olive oil, depending on the olives from which it is extracted, can be distinguished in the following varieties, each one suiting a different use:
- A delicate golden quality, with a sweet taste and a savoury after taste, usually used to dress cold dishes.
- An intense yellow mild quality, with a mild taste and a slightly herbaceous after taste, apt to dress food cooked with steam.
- A more intense yellowish/lime green quality, with a rich aroma and a fruity and sharp taste, used on roasted or grilled meats.
In general, Puglia olive oil is particularly suitable to deep fry since its chemical structure is not modified by high temperatures, hence not only it is not dangerous for human health but also it preserves fried food taste.

As far as it concerns the place of production, Puglia olive oil can be distinguished in four main species:
- DOP extra virgin olive oil from Brindisi, produced in Brindisi province area and in the following councils: Carovigno, Ceglie, Messapica, Cisternino, Fasano, Ostuni, San Michele Salentino, San Vito dei Normanni and Villa Castelli
- Dauno DOP extra virgin olive oil, produced in Foggia area. This specie can be divided into four sub-categories: Dauno Gargano, Dauno Sub Appennino, Dauno Basso Tavoliere and Dauno Alto Tavoliere.
- Terra di Bari DOP extra virgin olive oil, produced in Bari province. Fall in this category Castel del Monte, Bitonto, Murgia dei Trulli and delle Grotte olive oil.
- Terra D’Otranto DOP extra virgin olive oil, an extra virgin olive oil produced in Lecce and Taranto provinces.

It exactly in Lecce area, more precisely in Vernole countryside, that is the olive tree whose olives produced the olive oil given to Michelle Obama. The tree is known as “The queen” and it has a queenly posture, a trunk of almost 14 meter in diameter and an estimate age of 1.400 years.

“The Queen” produces even 6 quintal of olive of the local variety and a yield of more than 100 kg of extra virgin olive oil, which this year were donated to US First Lady as acknowledgement of her concrete commitment in the 'Let's move!' campaign, aimed at raise awareness among Americans, especially youngsters, and spur them to follow a Mediterranean lifestyle, made of Mediterranean diet and physical activity.

On October 27 2012, traditional feast day for olive gathering was transformed in “The Michelle Obama Med-Italian Diet day”, initiative aimed at honour the First Lady and to put under the spotlight one of the most ancient and finest olive oil in the world.
Michelle Obama would have liked to attend to this event as special guest but, unfortunately, her husband’s presidential campaign schedule did not allowed her to be present. Therefore, she has promised that in her next trip to Italy she will visit Salento and for now will enjoy her Puglia olive oil she received directly at the White House.

Puglia is one of the most producing regions of olive oil, extra virgin olive oil.
If you want to know the names of the best olive oil producers in Puglia and in Italy, we suggest going to www.esg89.com, where you will find names and financial data of Italian main companies of every region and sector.

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