All i oli (garlic and oil) is one of the oldest and best known Mediterranean sauces. It is present in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia and Provence (the Catalan phrase all i oli has its equivalent alhòli in Occitan, aïoli in French or ajolio in Aragón). This sauce is used both in the cooking process and as an accompaniment that enhances the flavour of the food.

As olive oil and garlic are two of the oldest ingredients of the Mediterranean cuisine, we can trace all i oli back to the Egyptians and Romans.

In the medieval gastronomy of Catalonia, garlic sauces were very common. They were found in all over Spain, Italy, Malta and indeed the whole Mediterranean area. In that times, garlic sauces were eaten with bread or cheese, just like the present day "skordalia" of Greece and other Mediterranean garlic based sauces.

Ingredients (traditional all i oli)

Peel the garlic cloves and pound them in a mortar with 1/2 level teaspoon of salt. When the garlic becomes a fine paste start to drip in the olive oil, stirring all the time. If the mixture does not thicken, or starts to separate, add a small piece of bread, or alternatively an egg white, and pound into the sauce. Sometimes it’s very difficult to produce a well thicken all i oli, the shape of the mortar, the temperature of the oil, how you drip the oil, the rhythm, everything counts.

If you can’t do it, don’t worry, you will just miss the look of all i oli, but the flavour will be still in there. Due to the work and difficulty that the making of all i oli involves, people have come with an unorthodox way of making all i oli, a.k.a. modern all i oli:

Ingredients (modern-easy-somewhat-fake all i oli):

The secret of this easy all i oli is the use of an electric mixer and the addition of eggs. Throw all the ingredients into the container and start mixing with the electric mixer. Use the lowest speed setting. Drip the oil slowly, and everything will be fine. If the sauce separates, add more eggs. The result is a more voluminous sauce, that resembles a mayonnaise with garlic flavour. Apart from being easier to prepare, its flavour is less intense that in the original all i oli, so it is a good introduction for this kind of sauces.

Served with barbecued meat, specially rabbit, chicken or lamb. Also can be used as an enhancement of the arròs negre (black rice) and of course, combined with pa amb tomàquet!.

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