As most people know the European Union — the EU — is in the middle of an immense economic crisis, with a lot of its members in recession and others such as Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Cyprus needing bailouts from the EU and World banks to keep them afloat. You would think that our esteemed MEPs — Members of the European Parliament — would be working determinedly to find ways of improving the economic situation and easing the rampant unemployment and ensuing poverty caused by stringent cuts.
But no — our erstwhile leaders have decided in a rather draconian measure that from 1st January 2014 our beloved Olive Oil can no longer be served in a flask or a rustic jug or dipping bowl in restaurants, it will have to be served in “pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.” One of the great joys of eating out in rural Portugal is the chance to “eat local” to help your local community by using their products.
In return, the local providers will sell you five litres of the best Olive Oil in a reused water bottle, saving on transport, packaging, labelling and handling costs. All of the smaller producers from the single farms to medium-sized producers will be affected by this.
I suspect many of the smaller home farms will stop production altogether or it will vanish into the black market and be bartered for wine or vegetables and meat. This is a direct attack on the Portuguese and Mediterranean way of life and will inevitably affect the choice and quality of olive oils available to the consumer. There are some very good oils which are highly manufactured, highly advertised and very smooth. We will miss the rougher, rustic and authentic tastes — if they ever implement it here.
I smell rebellion already. I wonder if they are going to do the same to wine, which is also served in carafes, earthenware jugs and on tap — similar to beer in England.
I also wonder about Tomato and Brown Sauces and salt and pepper and other condiments — are all our wonderful eateries going to be changed into fast food joints, where everything comes in a paper or plastic packet? Will we be fighting with pods of olive oil and dreading the inevitable spill — just like we do with those awful creamers we have to add to our tea and coffee? I definitely taste rebellion.