Monday, February 7, 2011

Yes, We Have No Canolas

Nutritionists are always telling us to use either olive oil or canola oil to be healthy.  And olives themselves, they say, are also good for you.  But why is it we are never urged to eat some nice fresh canolas?  

To my surprise, I recently discovered there’s no such thing as a canola!  The oil that goes by that name is made from rapeseed.  Rape, pardon the expression, is an herb in the mustard family, and its name comes from the Latin rapum, which means “turnip.” 

So where does “canola” enter the picture?  The rapeseed from which the oil is pressed was bred in Canada during the 1970s.  It was regarded as a particularly beneficial oil for human consumption because it was low in something unpleasant called erucic acid.  Hence the name “canola” was coined from “CANadian Oil- Low Acid.”  The term has been in use since 1979.

Low acid is not a trait of the Bard of Buffalo Bayou, who concocts verses that are wildly acerbic when they are not incomprehensible, like the following. 
            And Emile Zola
            One day chanced to meet.
            Said Emile Zola:
            What would you like to eat?”

            “Some Coca-Cola
            From Pensacola,”
            Savonarola said.
            “And Gorgonzola,
            Fried in canola,
            Then I will be well fed.”

            “We’ve no canola,”
            Said Emile Zola.
            “It’s something you can’t get.
            Like the Victrola,
            And the Crayola,
            It’s not invented yet.”

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