My friend Barbara operates The Parson's Wife. From her store on Route 30A on the way to Fonda, she favored me with a wonderful "neighbor" Christmas gift: a ribbon-bound pile of old food pamphlets. You know the kind, advertisements with recipes and helpful hints for using the products. Delightful reading.
Browsing through one pamphlet on Pompeian Olive Oil, I saw an intriguing piece, "A Little Preachment on Pompeian" by Elbert Hubbard. I thought to myself. "The value of olive oil? Aren't we just learning that now? Isn't it the new hot health item? Doesn't Dr. Oz mention its attributes every day? Isn't it Rachael Ray's private ingredient? What did they know about olive oil 100 years ago? And who is Elbert Hubbard? "
As I read on, I decided I had to share this information with my readers. This is really fun stuff to read.
And Elbert Hubbard? He was an American writer, artist and philosopher, best known as the founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York, an influential exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement. An influential publisher of the Fra magazine (where this article first appeared), he and his wife Alice, a well-know suffragette, died aboard the RMS Lusitania, when sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland in 1915.
From "A Little Preachment"
"I have never been sick a day in my life, and have never missed a meal except through inability of access. I neither overeat nor underbreathe. Consequently, I do not enjoy poor health.
"One of the secrets of my perfect health for fifty-odd years lies in the fact that, so far as olive oil is concerned, I am a consumer. I do not claim that olive oil is a cure-all - a panacea, for anything and everything you have or think you have.
"Nothing can take the place of cheerfulness and industry, fresh air and wholesome thoughts. But I am convinced that the use of olive oil as an article of diet is not as universal as it should be.
"If you argue that the taste for olive oil is an acquired taste, I rebut thusly: So are the ills that flesh is heir to, acquired. Adam never was operated on for appendicitis and Eve's digestive apparatus was absolutely unimpaired.
"The patriarchs of Bible times were well acquainted with the uses of olive oil. The Good Book is full of references to the 'Oil of gladness.' When a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, some passed him by on the other side, but the good Samaritan 'went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.' The wound was washed with wine. The oil acted as a healing agent.
"Coming down the centuries, we find the Greeks very partial to the delicate flavor of olive oil. There was a Greek proverb to this effect: A long and pleasant life depends on the wine within and the oil without." The Greeks used olive oil also as an article of food.
"When Spanish padres came to California, in the wake of the mailed conquistadores, and set the mission bells a jingling, they used wine and place of milk and olive oil for butter
"Olive oil is a lubricant. Also, it is a condiment, making rich the salad.
"A tiptop aid to a healthy digestion, a builder of tissues and a renovator of sluggish blood and nerves on edge. The elements contained in pure olive oil are need in the body.
"Use it as an unguent and you can laugh a Rheumatiz. Just as excellent taken internally. A pint of olive oil a week will biff the doctor on the beak and reduce him to the neutral position of a delightful social factor. Take a little before each meal, and a three-finger swig just before the taps. It's the best bedtime tonic. If every bottle of patent medicine were dumped in the deep and olive oil put in its place, think of the universal good that would result.
"There are good olive oils galore. High quality is important. It should have a nutty flavor to please particular people. Pompeian is very good. Any good grocer or druggist will sell you good olive oil. I forget the price but it is worth all you pay and more considering the benefit you will derive from pure olive oil."
Well, thank you Mr. Hubbard for letting us know so many years ago what we are just paying attention to today. So, reader, why are you still reading this? Why not go out and get some of that good stuff right now. And if you enjoy this, Google "The Fra" - you won't be disappointed.