When my family moved from London to the countryside in 1992, the fact we had a colossal field of rape behind the house went straight over my head. I was nine. Whatever.
Lord, but it's a terrible name. Rape. Rapeseed. This is unfortunate because rapeseed oil is the absolute bees knees. It's amazing to cook with. It's healthier than olive oil. It tastes great. I use it to make my favourite carrot cake. And holy mother of hell, it is a great salad dressing.
My work canteen has inexplicably started stocking some utterly insane flavoured rapeseed oils by the cheapo salad bar. Chiltern Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil (and breathe) has revolutionised lunch for me. It started with basil. Oh! Basil. Is there nothing you can't deliciousify?
The basil was clearly popular, because the next time I investigated salad, it had been replaced with lemon and chilli varieties. I was suspicious. I should not have been. The lemon SANG in my salad. It made a plastic takeaway bowl feel like a delicate piece of Italian pottery. It linked arms with the balsamic vinegar I'd plonked on and made the entire thing taste of magic and holidays.
I have yet to get up the guts to try the chilli one, but there's only so much you can ask of a redhead who can only just about tolerate korma.
I dearly hope that whoever is ordering this in the canteen keeps going, because the flavours are to die for: Basil, Garlic, Chilli, Lemon, Thyme, Porcini, Rosemary, Stirfry and Oak Smoked. If the latter is anything like my beloved oak smoked cherry tomatoes, then I need some of that. And the porcini. And definitely the garlic. And the stirfry sounds interesting. Basically, all of them? Canz?
What makes this heavenly golden magic syrup even better is that it's all warm and fuzzy on the production front. It's made by a family - wonderfully, called Mead. Bring on the honey booze - at the farm in the Chiltern Hills where they have been farming since 1860. Their oil has won two gold Great Taste awards, but more importantly I LOVE IT. I too shall make them a medal.
The Meads sell the oils in farm shops and delis, but more handily in their online shop where you can get posh oil at not remotely posh prices. A 250ml bottle is £3.50, a 2.5 litre can of the infused oil is £20 and you can get 5 litres of the regular oil for £23. If you can't decide, or want to send someone a lovely present, a gift set of three bottles in a smart black box is £12.25.
Please to choose your favourite and report back on how you've used the magic oil to make your food better.