OLIVE OIL AS PART OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Along with vegetables, fish, bread and red wine, olive oil is one of the most important ingredients in Mediterranen cuisine. Studies have shown that men and women living in countries where olive oil is traditionally consumed suffer less frequently from illnesses affecting the he- art and the circulatory system. Olive oil is particularly rich in unsaturated fats, vitamin E and natural antioxidants such as carotene and phenols, which support the body in its struggle against cellular aging.
With its fruity aromas and colour ranging from greenish yellow to gold, its complex flavour (from bitter to slightly sweet), Portu- guese olive oil provides a terrific basis for many tasty dishes out of the Mediterranean kitchen. Just as in some cultures one always finds salt and pepper on table (or soy sauce in others), in Portugal there’s always a canister of olive oil on the table. And if you add a bit of bread and coriander, you’ve got the Alentejo’s most important ingredients on hand.
Fine olive oil is also an essential element of one of the Alentejo’s most famous dishes, Carne de porco à alentejana, a stew of pork, clams and coriander. Or for the type of salad in which traditional beans like black- eyed peas are marinated in olive oil to take on an unmistakable regional flavour. And of course in the Pão-de-Ló, a sweet sponge cake enhanced with Portuguese olive oil.