The domestication history of various plants and animals is only the starting place to understanding what shows up on our modern dinner plates. Olive oil, for example, is often cited as one of the reasons olives were domesticated, some 6,000 years ago. But the earliest evidence of olive oil pressing is only about 4,500 years old.
These olives are from the Jaen province in Andalusia, where some of the earliest processing plants are known. Photo from JMN / Cover / Getty Images.
So, how was this lovely stuff manufactured before EVOO became a standard culinary shorthand for Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
By the way, by some weird coincidence, as I was researching this article, I heard an interview on Lynne Rosetto Kasper's The Splendid Table about a new book based on a UC Davis study comparing olive oils sold in California retail stores--and their results are not even close to what you might be paying for.