EVOO and the olive tree were symbols of wealth in the Andalusian world. Olive oil was used in numerous ways: for food, cosmetics, medicinal purposes, for the preparation of soaps, for lighting, for creating perfumes through the use of the still (for this, olives had to be collected in August, before the fruit turned black in order to prevent water from rotting the fruit).
During the caliphate, society excelled in the areas of astronomy and medicine, although, to a lesser extent there were representatives in the pharmacopoeia, alchemy, agriculture, botany, applied mathematics and hydraulic engineering. Among the scholars of this time, the figure of Ibn Rushd, also known asAverroes, stands out. He was an Andalusian philosopher and doctor who was born in Córdoba. He wrote numerous books in his illustrious career. Among them is The Kulliyyat, which is a treatise on medicine in which he reveals the importance of the diet. Here, he expands on the consumption of EVOO; citing the characteristics and benefits of olive oil and its culinary uses:
«When it comes from ripe and healthy olives, and its properties have not been artificially altered, it can be perfectly assimilated by the human constitution (…) distinguishing and naming qualities, zeit al-anfaq, for the best quality and al-‘akri for the lowest quality, we know it today as lampante.
“Foods combined with oil are nutritious, provided that the oil is fresh and not very sour (…) In general, all the substance of oil is suitable for man, so in our land only meat is seasoned with it, since this is the best way to temper it. This is what we call sauteing. Here is how it is done: the oil is taken and poured into a pot, immediately placing the meat in the pot and adding hot water little by little, but without boiling it.”
This philosopher, a lover of olive groves and EVOO,had a dish that he could not resist: fried eggs with EVOO.
“When they are fried in olive oil they are very good, since the things that are seasoned with oil are very nutritious; but the oil must be new, with little acidity and it must be from olives. It is usually a very suitable food for man.”
It can be said again, that when a dish is accompanied, paired or prepared with EVOO, the food acquires a healthy, yet delicious quality that makes it utterly irresistible.