Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Come and Eat: Oil Can What?

Okay, I've put this off long enough, eh? So please, Come and Eat.

Tonight, I'd like to introduce you to the collection:


(bigger here)

This isn't every can of olive oil we've ever purchased together, but it's close. Yes, that means we moved most of these halfway across the country. Because I am crazy. And because I had a vision of one day having a huge outdoor wedding party, with these as flower vases. (But mostly because I am crazy.)

The collection started when we lived in Chicago, on the far north side near the Indian neighborhood. We'd go to a certain discount grocery store out on Devon, where vegetables and spices and rice were cheap, and buy whatever oil they happened to have that time. Sometimes it was pretty good. Sometimes ...not so much. The worst was "El Toro" -- third from the right here -- but its can is one of my favorites, along with Alafia and La Regina. It makes me think of Ferdinand. Seriously terrible taste, though. Not recommended.

For years, I had no answer to the question everyone who sees the cans asks: which one was the best? You might have noticed that I like to think about (and talk about) food a great deal, so it was somewhat embarrassing to admit that, as long as the oil I eat every day in nearly every meal isn't El-Toro-wretched, apparently I pay it no mind. Regular con-a-sewer, right here.

Then I found Fortuna. I bought it at DiPalo's, on Grand Street in Little Italy, and it you live in New York and don't know what I'm talking about, it's high time you got off the computer and found out. (Be sure to stop by Alleva Dairy for some cheese while you're there. I bought the can on the far right there, just after we came to the city. I signed my credit card slip on top of a huge wheel of cheese.) I wanted to buy the cooler looking can -- red and blue and very 70's -- but the woman at the counter was having none of it. She all but forced me to buy the Fortuna, and was she ever right. It's a truly lovely oil, light and flowery. A little of that drizzled on some chickpeas and all's right with the world. Heavenly days.

So now I have a problem. Do I continue my tradition of buying a different can every time? It's getting harder. I have to go farther and farther afield to find ones I haven't bought before -- astute observers will note one brand appears twice, mostly out of desperation. Or do I recognize that I have found the perfect oil and settle in for a long and delicious run of monotonous appearances?

And what the heck flowers am I going to find tall enough to put in these cans anyway?

So, what are you up to this week? Paste the address of a post about a food or meal into Mr. Linky. Please paste the address of a particular post, not just your whole blog, so folks know where to comment. (And as always, please put a * by your name if your post features babies/pregnancy.)


  1. Very cool! MY father was a BIG foodie, and an amazing cook, and he would always supply me and my sis with cans of olive oil because he went through it like water and was constantly shopping. Plus he loved food shopping (or any shopping, really). It never occurred to me to save the cans, but now of course I wish I had.

  2. Awww, I know that part of Chicago. I used to go all the way up there from Hyde Park to get my special Indian Pickle. MMMM. I say if you've found the perfect oil, stick with it! And I love the idea of using the cans for vases. I'm imagining the tops cut off (you know, with that metal saw we all have) and some dahlias and hydrangeas and other large, festive flowers. Of course you can always just stick foam in the bottom if you want to use shorter flowers.

  3. foam! now why didn't i think of that?

    and i should have mentioned that the tops are off -- trusty can opener works just fine. i sometimes use them to soak corn for grilling at picnics.

  4. we have tea cans like this ... from England! I think you'll need to go to Italy. Or list what you have, and have us send you some from all over.

  5. Can't say I've ever noticed much difference in the tastes of olive oils but that's a cool looking collection of cans.

  6. keep collecting! what a neat thing!

  7. OK, it was late but I did it!

  8. i came across your blog through lesbian dad i think. i live near clark and devon! can you please be so kind as to share the name and location of this discount food store that you loved? i like going to new places and trying new food, but i never know which places are good, and i really need to get some good bulk rice. your oil can collection is really cool! i promise i won't by el toro.
    -jenn p