I used to sneer at people who insisted on using Extra Virgin Olive Oil. No more; I have become a snob myself. It is worth every cent you pay for it.
For some and for Chinese food, I agree that peanut or canola oils are very good and don’t change the flavor of the food. But when you cook with Olive Oil, you want the flavor it adds.
Good olive oil must be deep green, taste sweet, deep, and with just a little edge. Buy the best. If you have to use some other oil, do so, but it isn’t the same.
Read the lable. You want oil that comes from the Mediterranian countries, whether packed in Italy or Spain. Argentine olive oil may not be to your taste. We've never tried olive oil from the U.S., but it exists. The best oils (of any kind) are "cold pressed". But they tend to be expensive.
Here is a good guide to good oil:
“Virgin olive oil is graded by acidity – the lower the acidity the higher the quality of the oil. The acidity affects both the taste and the aroma – Extra Virgin olive oils have a maximum acidity of one per cent; the top quality ones tend to have less than 0.5 percent. Virgin oil can have up to 3 percent acidity.
“Pure olive oil is a refined olive oil that has been chemically treated, heated and filtered to reduce its acidity. Because it is possible to alter the characteristics of olive oil in this way, it is not unusual for inferior olive oils to be blended with others and then passed off as the genuine article. European Union labeling law is beginning to alter so that in future we have be a lot more confident that what we are getting is what is indicated on the label.” -- BBC Vegetarian, February 1999
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