Why do Spaniards cook everything with olive oil instead of butter?

One of the things that most represents Spain is its gastronomy. In particular, its Mediterranean diet. And also the rest of southern European countries. A dividing line in Europe that has been present for years: the one that separates the countries used to cook with butter and the ones that use olive oil.

For any self-respecting Mediterranean, the idea of cooking with any ingredient other than this precious liquid gold, as olive oil is known in the south, is shameful. But it so happens that ours is a minority opinion.

Liquid gold as lifestyle

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Andalusia is the main producer of olive oil in Spain. | Shutterstock

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and a study it carried out, there is a clear line between the north and the south of Europe. They studied two variables: the annual per capita consumption of olive oil and butter, and assigned then each country a color (green and yellow) according to its favorite product. The result is a yellow wave that dominates the continent except in the south.

Countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Albania, Greece and Cyprus still resist this yellow wave. There is nothing more ‘French’ we can think of than melting some butter in a frying pan and pouring all the food of the day into it. Any Spanish or Italian who has lived in a British or German house will have noticed the same thing. Olive oil is in short supply.

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Extra virgin olive oil. | Shutterstock

To the surprise of many San Marino wins the battle of which country uses more olive oil with approximately 24 liters per person and year. Greece and Spain meanwhile follow this tiny Italian enclave with 12 liters. Italy, for its part, uses 8.2 per person per year. The culture of olive oil is deeply rooted in these countries. Its production, consumption and gastronomy is linked with this precious liquid.

Spain, king of olive oil world production

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Spain produces a 40% of the world production of olive oil. | Shutterstock

Regarding to the production of olive oil, Spain wins all wars. It produces approximately a 40% of the total of world production in the last years of liquid gold. Italy follows Spain with a 10% of world production, and Greece or Turkey follow its path but far behind.

Very far behind are the United Kingdom and Germany, for example, with not even a 1% of world consumption of olive oil.  The case of the United States is surprising, with a production of only a 0.19% of the world’s olive oil, but a consumption of a 9%.

So, as we see, olive oil is a proudly and exclusively Mediterranean affair. Authentic civilization as opposed to the generalized barbarism of Northern Europe.

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