There is an irony to me handling food interviews like this one, and that’s that I can hardly eat anything.
In the fall of 2017, I started having allergic reactions to nearly every food as a result of persistent and mysterious health problems that have dogged me for more than four years now. Out of necessity, I went on a low-histamine diet and kept cutting out ingredients as more foods began giving me problems. I’ve been working on healing, but in the meantime, I find it difficult to find good fats that won’t give me stomach aches, headaches, brain fog, swelling in my face, or a runny nose. Luckily, one oil that I can always tolerate is True Olive Connection’s California Mission Oil. I talked to Susan Pappas, co-owner of the shop with her husband Mike, to find out why.
What can you tell me about the Mission Oil?
SUSAN PAPPAS: It’s organic, and it’s from San Joaquin Valley. It’s a wonderful family of four Polish men who’ve had this farm for 30 years. They do five olive oils. It’s a fantastic product, but the reason it works so well for you is it’s low-alkaline, which helps if you have an imbalance in your stomach, or if you have high allergies. It has a green and grassy finesse to it, but not so much that it dominates the food, and it’s a great everyday extra virgin olive oil.
What’s in other olive oils that don’t sit well with me?
It could be that they’re not as fresh. Fresh chlorophyll, low-alkaline, high-polyphenol olive oil is super fresh. They sit under nitrogen until we pour them. You’re getting all of the fresh antioxidants and nutrients that your body needs, and it’s very difficult to duplicate that in a pre-bottled product that sits on the shelf for however long.
I remember coming here on the Santa Cruz Food Tour and learning that I should put balsamic vinegar on ice cream. Have you tried that?
We do that all the time at home. Because I’m the owner, I have a little bit of everything. But one of my favorite ice cream treats is the fresh basil olive oil and a really, really nice, crunchy sea salt. And it makes the best vanilla ice cream accouterment. The basil comes across, and people think, “Wow, I wouldn’t have expected basil.” I want to encourage people to go one step further. Macerate strawberries. Blend them into your favorite vanilla ice cream, and then drizzle basil olive oil with a little crunchy sea salt. The fat in the olive oil just picks up the fat in the ice cream, and it’s so decedent and so easy. That’s my summer treat.