Olive grove at L’Oulibo, Minervois, southern France. Photo by Kelly S. Kurt
The Sicilian set up shop on Mulberry Street, seeking refuge and respect. In the beginning, he imported oil, so the mamas dwelling among the Knickerbockers and the Chinese could season their soups and noodles. Some fought hard for their market turf, pushing their oils twofisted. Some were content to share shelf space with other brands, other immigrants. The strongest pushers gained a reputation, and with the reputation came the lore. Olive oil gave way to women, liquor, gambling, smack, numbers, labor and stealing, but the infighting never stopped. The olive, the fruit of the wreath of peace, remained the shop front, the link, the calling card.