Wither the Olive Oil? Oy, Oy!

Wither Olive Oil? Oy, Oy!







Both the mighty and the not-so-mighty worry. Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet pondered lofty questions from his castle keep; I ponder less esoteric topics like how best to keep olive oil.

Hamlet contemplated the unfairness of life and debated avenging his father’s murder by his uncle, now stepfather, and king. He pondered life itself:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them:”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor Hamlet. Everybody’s got issues, right?

Take me. I’m no Shakespeare, but I too face grave, indeed existential, questions:

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is my question.
‘Tis better to risk rancidity or clouded, solidified olive oil?

These questions have occupied an outrageous amount of my time recently. I refrigerate olive oil, but it gets cloudy and solid, which is inconvenient. Impatient for it to return to a liquid state, I put it under the kitchen faucet with scald-your-fingers hot water. This method of rapid “de-solidification” seems fine, but is it?

In Search of Culinary Consensus

I texted one friend. She does not refrigerate olive oil – or “oo,” as she writes. However, by raising the question, I have made her insecure. “Should I?” she text-questioned.

I texted another friend. “No” was her two-letter reply. That is what I like – a woman of firm kitchen convictions.

Sadly, I am not a woman of firm convictions. I govern my kitchen by consensus. So, I seek a third opinion, that of my husband. He is a firm believer in the refrigeration of olive oil.

Still … I am not sure.

My adult children marvel at how much time I have spent mulling and muddling over such a seemingly mundane question. They just don’t understand that to a middle-aged woman, unable to control her weight, her children, or the fate of the world that the idea of getting olive oil “right” is somehow a manageable and therefore inordinately important issue.

When I was younger, I was much more decisive. Now I often hesitate. I know the risks of wrong decisions. I know that even words spoken casually or in jest can hurt and come back to haunt.

“OO.” OY! OY!

I have a little plaque in my office. It reads: “I used to think I was indecisive but now I’m not so sure.” It’s funny, right? But still, it is kind of how I feel these days. So, somehow the “oo” question looms large.

“Why don’t you look it up on the Internet?” both children have asked.

They don’t understand why I prefer communicating with imprecise, but real people, instead of turning to that all-knowing, impersonal, disembodied expert, the Worldwide Web. They don’t get my need for human interaction and human validation.

So, what do you do? What do you think? To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is still the question.

(And once we settle that debate, let’s talk about sponge bacteria – to microwave or not? The experts used to say “yes.” Now some say “nay.” Alas and alack! It’s enough to drive Hamlet and me mad!)

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