The crowd facing olive oil sommelier Nicola Di Noia was well-behaved but not always attentive.
Some began to tune out when he started talking about the importance of buying extra virgin olive oil at a specialty shop and not to skimp by buying any old €3 bottle at the supermarket.
Others were already busy with the colouring books and pencils laid out on the long tables in the conference room of the luxurious Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. But Di Noia was unfazed.
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“Extra virgin olive oil is a fruit juice. It should be a little bitter. Don’t be afraid if it’s bitter,” he said.
An hour in, some restlessness was understandable. They were just children. Forty of them, aged four to nine, who had been brought by their parents – about a third of whom were also trained sommeliers, some of olive oil and some of wine – to a seminar to teach children about extra virgin olive oil.
The event was not a typical rite of passage for Italian youth. But it did point to the importance many Italians place on maintaining the country’s cultural and culinary heritage, a subject Di Noia said is often studied and appreciated more by tourists from Germany, Japan, and France than Italians.Seminar to teach children about extra virgin olive oil,