I just read a great piece by Anne Menely in the book Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. Menely’s chapter, entitled “Oil”, looks at the social relations that are built around producing olive oil in Tuscany and she also investigates the way in which Italians talk about purity, danger and sexuality when discussing extra virgin olive oil. However, Menely begins by looking at the way in which the tourist image of Tuscany is mobilised to sell olive oil in North America. I had to stop and ask myself if this was the case with Amelia Oil?
Firstly, I think my mother and I started Amelia Oil because we wanted to share something really good that we enjoyed on a daily basis. When I moved back to North America, I was disgusted by the low quality and high price of olive oil. It just seemed like consumers here were getting duped without realising it. I hoped I could teach people a little bit about olive oil so they would know exactly what they were getting for their money. Secondly, Amelia Oil was born out of my love for a town called Amelia in Umbria, Italy. I guess this is rather romantic but when you are in love you (and I mean head-over-heels) you want to tell the world about it. Mainly, I have a vision of doing something concrete and positive to help the people in this town that I called home for two years. I want to give something back to Amelia and the Amerini (the people who live there).
Finally, I imagine I am selling a dream but it is something that I lived and I want to share with others. I do think you can taste the green Umbrian hills in our oil but I hope you can also understand the hard work that is behind producing an oil of this quality. I think we are selling something that is really good and that is obvious from the first mouthful.