Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About
Olive trees are indigenous to the Mediterranean areas of southern France, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Both the trees and the oil of their fruit are mentioned throughout the Bible, and again and again in the history of classic Greece. Oil has been extracted from olives for over 5,000 years, used as a fuel source, an unguent, and an integral part of the diet, as well as a major trading commodity. It has often been said that “the Mediterranean ends where olive trees cease to grow.”

The word oil is derived from the Latin oleum, which is the oil of olivae (olives). In modern commerce, olive oil remains one of the most important exports of the Mediterranean area, with over 98 percent of all olive oil coming from this ancient source. The types of olive oil now available range from artisanal, family-produced oils to commercially-produced oils that might be a mixture of olive oils from two or three different countries. In America, a variety of olive oils from California are most frequently made in small batches on family-run farms.