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Kids Europe Newsletter: Olives and Morra
Everyone Can Sample the Olive Oil
May 2006
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Greetings:

Learn about olive oil tasting, something the whole family can enjoy while in Italy. Practice your Italian numbers while playing a wild and crazy game from ancient times.

Parents often enjoy tasting the wines of Italy, but there is taste of Italy that everyone can enjoy: olive oil! Learn a little about olives and olive oil and add tasting this healthful and flavorful product to your enjoyment of Italy.

Olive oil is a major product of Italy that produces about 25% of the olive oil in the world. It is very healthy, too, the best oil to consume, adding to good cholesterol HDL and reducing the bad LDL.

Italians partake heartily of this delicious food, consuming about 53 cups of olive oil per person per year, while the average American consumption is about 2.5 cups.

You can taste olive oil anywhere you find it, of course, and here is a li nk to a page that provides a system for tasting as well as much information about olive oil.

To taste olive oil, you can be very scientific: pour a little in a glass, swirl it around, warm it, sip it, etc. Or, you can simply observe the color in the bottle, pour a little in a saucer, smell it, dip in a piece of bread and taste it as you eat the bread.

Tasting olive oil can be as complicated as tasting wine but it is possible that to simply enjoy some good oil and to distinguish some of its characteristics, so here are some general taste categories to keep in mind.
  • Mild and buttery -- These are subtle oils, good for mild dishes such as a simple fish or salad dressing. They tend to be light golden-green.
  • Fruity and spicy -- You can smell the herbs in these green oils. They are delicious with cooked vegetables and seafood and are easy to love.
  • Fruity and peppery --These will get your attention with a long peppery finish. Their assertive flavors are good companions with sandwich fillings or as a drizzle on garlicky dishes such as pastas or grilled meats. They are often dark green-gold.
  • Full-bodied and earthy -- Like a big wine, these are big olive oils. Rich mouthfeel with a full flavor characterize the golden oils.
While you are in Italy, watch for Italians shouting numbers and playing what looks like a very loud and lively game of rock-paper-scissors. That's Morra, a game that was played by the ancient Romans and is played throughout Italy. As you can see in this page, it has a long history and here you will also find stories of life and death decisions made by games of Morra. There are also some fun video clips of the game being played in Spanish on this page.

Basically, two players simultaneously "throw," i.e. show, some fingers and shout out a guess of the total number of fingers showed by both players. A right guess wins a point. The game is won when one player reaches the predetermined number of points. This page lays out the simple rules.

Here is an online game of two-finger Morra with the probabilities and a strategy discussion. If you can read Italian here is a site in Italian that describes what looks like a hundred versions of the game. Wikipedia also offers a concise history and description of the game.

Teach a friend how to play Morra and play a game. Use this as a chance to practice your numbers in Italian. This link offers a page with audio so you can hear how to pronounce them.
"I just wanted to let you that we just got back from Italy and my kids carried their Italy Journals every where we went. My fifth grader is doing a book report for school on the book and her trip! I would love to see this idea expanded to other countries! Good Job!" Amy G

Kids Europe sells some fine tools for traveling children:

We think a lot of this vacation apartment in Rome because of its good value, good amenities, fine location and the fact that it will sleep a family of six for just $300/night (the price is lower with fewer people). The location is in a favorite neighborhood, Prati, that is all-Italian, not jammed with tourists, with great shopping and near important sights such as the Vatican, Castel Sant'Angelo and just across the Tiber, easy walking distance, to Piazza del Popolo, Campo de'Fiori and Piazza Navona.

There is some availability for the summer left here and in some other nice properties we have in Rome. So if you still need accommodations, check out Tiberio or send an email and let us check for you.

My sister photographed the neighborhood when she was here several months ago. Take the photo tour and enjoy our favorite shops; you can tell she's a great shopper.

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