Essential oils

Tuscany Olive oil, the core ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine, is considered to be green gold in Tuscany. Prized for its medicinal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-busting properties, it is above all appreciated for its taste. Fruity, with a slightly bitter tang and a peppery aftertaste, it is an indispensable addition to the best culinary preparations, as well as simple Tuscan specialties such as fettunta: a slice of bread rubbed with garlic, topped with fresh tomatoes, basiland just a drizzle of olive oil. Simply delicious.

Zagreb Toasted pumpkin seed oil is a nectar of the gods if ever there were one. The oil’s beautiful brown hue turns forest green when poured. Rich in vitamin E, it is an antioxidant, and is also said to be great for skin tone and a fit heart. But its unctuous, full-bodied taste with a hint of hazelnut is what grabs you and leaves you wanting more. In Zagreb, they love to pour it on cooked cabbage or over a slice of corn bread. An elegant alternative: sprinkle a few drops onto winter squash or pumpkin soup, for a pleasing color contrast and a tastebud-tingling blend of flavors. 

Ghana The bunches of palm nuts along the roadside look like clusters of hedgehogs that have taken on the flaming hues of a sunset. “It’s Ghana’s treasure,” people will tell you. Once the bunches have been harvested, Ghanaians wait for three days so that the fruits can be more easily detached. Then they are boiled, gently crushed and pressed twice. Red oil runs out, like a river of fire, and is used to cook up yam or taro stew. Any self-respecting Ghanaian loves to fry plantains in palm fruit oil, too, served with another fiery condiment: red chili paste. 

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