“Like an Extra Virgin” by Anne Meneley

This article made me wonder if the theme of “honor and shame” in the Mediterranean plays out in planes other than the family, morality, and community, but also in food. On page 63, Meneley says, “I was told by several Italian olive oil producers that if an oil does not achieve an extravirgin destination, they do not bottle it under their own label, metaphorically disowning the ‘impure’ daughter.” I found this very interesting because while at first glance it may not seem very different that what many American companies may do, the language used implies otherwise. It is likened to a daughter and the word “disowned” is even used. In America, we are used to food companies selling fairly low-quality food as high-quality food, and using clever advertising to make the food seem enticing for reasons other than quality. Many Italian olive oil companies, on the other hand, do not seem to be so quick to distract from the quality. Rather, companies like the ones mentioned in the article are so unwilling to sacrifice quality and extravirginity that they will not sell less pure olive oil under their own name. This, to me, implies that pureness of not only daughters, but olive oil too, is a basis for honor and shame.

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