Friday, November 21, 2008

The Frugal Eggplant: Goya Extra-Virgin olive oil

In recognition of the fact that our economy seems to be collapsing before our very eyes, the Eggplant is starting a new series, called "The Frugal Eggplant."

Due to its historic poverty, Italy has (until very recently) been a naturally frugal society. Frugal, not cheap. Frugality does not preclude living well. Inexpensive recipes, products, travel, and other stuff will be featured. The series will have the label "frugal eggplant" along with its other topical label.

Here's an important starter: Goya extra-virgin olive oil. About two years ago I abandoned the everyday use of Italian oil upon considering that a) it was too expensive b) it was often not Italian anyway and c) I had concerns about authenticity and quality even for expensive oils. See my post about adulterated Italian oil from last year.

I buy my Goya oil at (surprise) the local CVS. It costs $3.19 for a half bottle of 250 milliliters, which is much lower than my previous choice, Bertolli. Another surprise: the drugstore price is much cheaper than the supermarket. I have seen Boston-area supermarkets where the same item costs $4.79. It seems to me that the reason is that for the Hispanic target market the oil is a staple and not a luxury. As a result, there is no price inflation.

I had spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino making the oil today, which is also quite frugal (in terms of time and money). Spaghetti aglio olio is even cheaper. Kyle Phillips' recipe calls for browning the garlic- you should almost never actually brown (make brown) garlic. The Italians use the words imbiondire (make blonde) or dorare (make golden) when referring to this. I also shouldn't have to tell you that you must not use pre-peeled garlic, much less the pre-minced stuff in jars.