`Richard Gawel on a Tear

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Richard Gawel on a Tear

Dec. 29, 2010
Sarah Schwager

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Many of the big­ger pro­duc­ers are now turn­ing olives into qual­ity oils as soon as they have been har­vested, some­thing a small pro­ducer could only dream of. Dr. Gawel said in these oils they are find­ing free fatty acid­ity lev­els (an impor­tant indi­ca­tor of an olive oil’s qual­ity) of 0.1 and 0.15, low per­ox­ides and they are fresh and fruity.

Richard Gawel said an issue that is not being widely talked about is the reduc­tion in con­sump­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, and olive oil in gen­eral, in Europe. If you look at Spain, Italy and par­tic­u­larly in Greece, the per capita con­sump­tion has fallen sig­nif­i­cantly in the last 10 years. The IOC doesn’t ever talk about this because they don’t actu­ally want any­one to talk about it.”

He said annual per capita con­sump­tion in Greece has fallen from some­thing like 28 to 21 liters in the last 10 years. That’s a hell of a lot of olive oil. You’ve got to ask the ques­tion, why aren’t peo­ple in Europe eat­ing as much olive oil as they used to?’ In every other coun­try around the world – the US, Aus­tralia, Ger­many and Britain – con­sump­tion is either sta­ble or increas­ing”

In Europe they’re doing pro­mo­tional pushes into India and China, which is great. If you get peo­ple in China to eat even one drop of olive oil a year each we’d all be wealthy but it’s a long haul to do that.”

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Dr. Gawel is cer­tainly doing his part to help keep the wine and olive oil indus­tries mov­ing. As part of his job he tastes wine just about every day, and he tastes more than 500 olive oils a year. And that’s just his day job.

At home, he said one of his kids really likes EVOO and puts it on every­thing, while the other doesn’t care less”. That’s kids for you,” he said.

Even despite the huge num­ber of oils that have touched his palate, his appetite for tast­ing good qual­ity olive oils has not dimin­ished. It would be nice to see a few more super duper fresh Euro­pean oils that we could try, but again Aus­tralia is a bit out of the way,” Dr. Gawel said.

But he said one of the best things about the Aus­tralian indus­try is its abil­ity to exper­i­ment and try new blends with its diverse vari­eties and styles of olive oils, which range from the Tus­can styles to Span­ish and Greek vari­eties, and with green olives, mid-range, and riper olives.

It is very open-minded about what con­sti­tutes good olive oils here. Some of the com­bi­na­tions you won’t find any­where else in the world. We get a few dog oils here from Aus­tralian pro­duc­ers on super­mar­ket shelves but I think the main thing is that the prob­lem isn’t sys­temic. What I’ve found is that Aus­tralian oils on Aus­tralian super­mar­ket shelves are really good qual­ity and pretty con­sis­tent, apart from the odd one.”

Between his var­i­ous olive oil and wine com­mit­ments, Dr. Gawel also man­ages to ded­i­cate time to some of his other pas­sions which often find their way into his Twit­ter feed (@oliveoilguy) such as human rights. As a mem­ber of Amnesty Inter­na­tional he said he feels priv­i­leged liv­ing in a coun­try where you can actu­ally say what you think and not get in prison for it”.

When he has the time to go fly fish­ing he also writes about that. That’s a pretty self-indul­gent thing to do,” he said. A keen gar­dener, his toma­toes might also get a men­tion, mostly to taunt” the neigh­bors. I love cricket. My Amer­i­can friends think that’s the fun­ni­est thing in the world, how any­one could sit in front of the tele­vi­sion for five days and watch a draw,” he said.

And I’ve always loved AFL (Aus­tralian Foot­ball League). I’m a strong sup­porter of the Mel­bourne Foot­ball Club (known as The Demons). I’m a keen cyclist when I’m not get­ting hit by cars, which I’ve been a few times and been in the hos­pi­tal. I think that cyclists get a bit of a hard time, we don’t get looked after that well. But apart from cycling and fish­ing and watch­ing cricket that’s about my life really.”

As for a Sun­day, he will tend his gar­den, go for a ride on his bike if he feels game, write his blog, have some mates around for a few beers, and spend some time with his kids.

A lot of peo­ple think my Sun­days might be wasted but I’ve never seen them as being wasted,” he said.
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